By Tim Jimenez
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Prosecutors in the US and Switzerland have announced indictments against 14 people, including nine officials of FIFA, the multibillion-dollar agency that governs world soccer.READ MORE: Philadelphia Police Searching For Suspect Who Stole Car With 6-Year-Old Girl In Backseat
The corruption charges against FIFA officials leave those who follow soccer closely stunned.
Soccer fans have long expressed their concerns with how FIFA operates. But actual arrests and charges, CBS 3 soccer expert Kevin Kinkead says, are surprising.
“This is unprecedented,” says Kinkead. “I can’t make any kind of comparison to American sports.”
FIFA controls everything soccer, Kinkead says, and it has never been challenged by a government like this.
“Allegations of bribery and money laundering and things like that have been levied against FIFA for years now, for no one to act against them or for no real movement to happen. This just sort of happened out of nowhere,” he says.
FIFA, he says, has stayed away from much government oversight throughout the world.READ MORE: North Philadelphia Community Welcomes Home 3-Year-Old Boy After Hit-And-Run That Also Killed Mother
One of the officials reportedly arrested is FIFA vice president Jeffrey Webb, who was in Philadelphia last March announcing that the Gold Cup Soccer tournament will hold its final at Lincoln Financial Field this summer.
Fast forward a few months later, and he’s taken away with other officials.
Greg Orlandini, host of KYW’s Philly Soccer Show, says many eyebrows were raised at FIFA’s selection of Qatar over the United States as the site for the 2022 World Cup.
“On the face of it, that move didn’t look quite right,” Orlandini says. “Qatar is a small country, (and) it doesn’t have a big sporting tradition let alone a big soccer tradition. They didn’t have any infrastructure for the game, to speak of. They’re building it now.”
Orlandini says he believes soccer fans will view the move as positive — as a way to counter the absolute power FIFA has wielded over host countries.
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