Corruption and Competition: The Wrong Goal in Football 

April, 2024 - Melody Mohammadi


By: Melody Mohammadi

Since their inception, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (“FIFA”) in 1904 and the Union of European Football Associations (“UEFA”) in 1955, football’s most important governing bodies, have aimed to promote fairness and act as representative democracies over arguably the most international sport to date. However, rampant corruption, open favoritism, and frequent infringements of competition laws have undermined their purpose and aim.1 Throughout modern history, each governing body has shown that it is willing to bend its rules for money, power, and political gain.2 Through their unchecked power, these organizations have monopolized the governance of football. Though corruption in sports is nothing new, these governing bodies’ preferential treatment of wealthy clubs and countries has been brought out of the shadows and into the global spotlight.

The governance structure of football has traditionally been prone to corruption. FIFA still awards countries that heavily engage in extortion and bribery schemes, and other football associations like UEFA, which operates the most prestigious club football league, the Champions League, also attempt to take advantage of the vagueness of the European Union’s competition law.3 Fueled by money and greed, the power dynamics of football are more prevalent due to the lack of controls to supervise these governing bodies.4 This also sets a terrible example for clubs indulging in similar wrongful behavior. Why act morally and reasonably if the governing organization is the same entity that creates the rules?

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