A corporate giant has, not for the first time, found it’s top administrators guilty of corruption. Following investigations from the FBI, FIFA has been charged with bribery and corruption in World Cup bidding as well as widespread bribery in sports marketing deals. Many of FIFA’s top officials have been charged with 47 counts of fraud, racketeering and money laundering conspiracies.
Considering the ubiquity, scale, sophistication and overwhelming frequency of corruption, The FIFA crisis cannot just be dismissed as an anomaly or be viewed as mere misbehaviour from the top officials – especially considering the fact that this corruption has been found to date back to 1991. The thoughts and motivations prevailing in the midst of these corruption cases needs to be examined with the view of identifying the common denominator in all such cases. Questions need to be asked as to why individuals and large corporations are seeking to exploit any and every opportunity for monetary gain? Be it in the form of corruption or otherwise.
David Cameron atop his white steed of forthrightness from the mountain of morality backed calls for Sepp Blatter to step down. As it happens though, the not so squeaky clean record of the incumbent and previous governments includes highlights such as; cash for honours, cash for questions and cash for access. Thus showing that the Fifa scandal is not some isolated case of corruption far removed from western countries like Britain and America.
In February of this year Malcolm Rifkind, the Tory party whip, was suspended in a cash for access scandal, alongside Jack Straw. This is an ongoing tradition, after the general election in 2010, David Cameron held dinners for various donors including hedge fund managers and CEO’s; suggesting that influence was bought through donations. Peter Crudas, former Tory Party treasurer was indicted explicitly for offering access to the ears of senior party members for cash. However, this is a cross party phenomenon, Tony Blair who promised he would be ‘purer than pure’ was questioned by police for offering peerages for cash. While these may verge on the barely legal, the MP expenses scandal most certainly wasn’t. The limited moral outcry of that particular scandal resulted in Eric Pickles, who spent over £70,000 of tax payer money on tea and biscuits, being awarded a knighthood. Corruption has extended past being a back alley practice and has now become an avenue for the elite to get what they want.
Lobbying, cash for access, donations and cash for honours are all part for the course. With widespread mutual engagement in bribery, opportunities for corruption are now found everywhere – be it on a large or small scale. The reaction from the US would leave one believing that a more incorruptible society could never have existed. However, in an examination of the Bush jr. administration it is very difficult to find an employee not reeking of corruption. On taking office, Dick Cheney refused to divest his shares from Haliburton, whom he had worked for up until 2000. Something which was not only highly immoral, but was also highly illegal. From 2001-2003 Cheney was paid a total of $3,448,923 by Haliburton. Haliburton won a no bid contract with a ‘cost-plus’ clause to ‘rebuild Iraq’. I’m sure that the two aren’t connected! This was only one case of corruption in the Bush jr. administration.
It is not the scale of bribery that matters but it is the culture itself that is the problem. Like all deeply entrenched cultures, corruption is based on ideas and thoughts which form a corrupt mentality. It also follows that the corruption culture cannot be something random or a natural occurrence but rather is influenced and nurtured. In the case of FIFA and the other cases cited above, it’s how business and politics is done. Influence is sold to the highest bidder through dubious and often illegal channels and the menacing root of corruption is shameless material gain. Ethical thinking, fairness and consideration for people can never be synchronised with materialism, personal benefit and greed. An atmosphere of materialism not only acts as a catalyst for corruption but breeds it – such that its occurrence is inevitable. The top officials in FIFA involved in corruption are just a natural by-product of the institution and insidious materialism that exists within capitalism.