Fifa’s Honest Services

In the manner of Casablanca’s Captain Renault, most anyone who follows the beautiful game must have been shocked — shocked! — to discover that Sepp Blatter’s FIFA-dom was a cesspit. It is so seldom that people with power to bestow highly valued favours seize the opportunity for self-enrichment when they have the discretion to do so. Why, just look at the reproachless governance of contemporary South Africa.

More genuinely novel was how the US Justice Department found a legal path to the indictment it handed down last week on 14 members of what it calls “the enterprise” — FIFA, its confederations, their federations and the marketing companies that feed on and off them. The dodgy dealings alleged in the 163-page charging document occurred only very tangentially in American territory and in many instances long after the statute of limitations would normally have expired.

Read the document closely with a copy of the US Code to hand and you will find that the case against Jack Warner, the Trinidadian alleged to have made a bundle fixing SA’s 2010 bid, and the rest of his fellow “conspirators” hinges,  on their having engaged in “a scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right to honest services”.

In this instance “another” is “the enterprise”. Technically, the enterprisers’ alleged crime is not bribery and kickbacks, though the words appear frequently in the indictment, but betrayal of fiduciary duty to FIFA and the other foreign bodies they variously represented. Continue reading “Fifa’s Honest Services”