The Current

FIFA arrests highlight major changes needed, say soccer insiders

High-ranking officials from soccer's governing body have been arrested and detained... but some say even that red card won't be a game-changer for a sport that's set in its offside ways. We convene a panel of soccer insiders to ponder FIFA's future.
"This for FIFA is good. It's not good in terms of image but in terms of cleaning up, , in terms of the reform process, this is good." - FIFA spokesman Walter De Gregorio on arrests (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)
Eight of the nine football officials indicted for corruption charges. (REUTERS)
These individuals, through these organizations, engaged in bribery to decide who would televise games, where the games would be held, and who would run the organization overseeing organized soccer worldwide.- Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney General

They're the kind of allegations that have been whispered about FIFA for years. But yesterday, it was the United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch, saying them loud and clear... in front of the world. 

And she backed up those words with indictments.

The day started with a raid across the ocean, in Zurich, Switzerland. At a luxury hotel, at dawn, seven FIFA officials -- including two vice presidents -- were greeted by Swiss police, arrested and detained. 

Sepp Blatter, the long-time FIFA president, who is seeking re-election, was not named in any of the indictments. 

And while these new accusations are the kind that both he and FIFA have weathered in the past, there is a sense that this time could be different. 

  • Andrew Jennings is an investigative journalist and author who has written books about corruption in the Olympics and FIFA. He was in Penrith, Cumbria, England. 
  • Nate Scott is the Senior Editor at USA Today's sports website, For The Win. He was in Washington, DC.
  • Jason Belzer is the President of the sports marketing agency GAME Inc and a professor of Sports Law at Rutgers University. He was in Newark, New Jersey. 

We requested an interview with a representative from FIFA. No one was available. FIFA did direct us to a statement it issued on the subject. 

We also requested an interview with a representative from Canada Soccer. The organization declined but did send us a statement saying it is "extremely disappointed by today's developments" and that it is confident it will not affect the competition at the Women's World Cup. 

This segment was produced by The Current's Pacinthe Mattar, Gord Westmacott and Marc Apollonio.