Genre: Non-fiction, sport, corruption
Fifa was founded in 1904 to unite the football-playing world, its first congress stating that ‘no person should be allowed to arrange matches for personal profit’. A little over a century later, a judge in a Brooklyn courtroom called Fifa a ‘Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organisation (RICO) enterprise’ – a term originally coined for the mafia.
As dazzling World Cups captivated billions around the world Fifa became a commercial magnet, money pouring into its coffers. Its earnest foundations began to crumble as those entrusted with the sport wanted their share.
For forty years Joao Havelange and then Sepp Blatter presided over a Fifa now plagued with scandal – dawn raids, FBI investigations, allegations of money laundering, industrial-scale bribery, racketeering, tax evasion, vote-buying and theft that now came to define the organisation whose purpose is to foster international cooperation and nurture the spirit of this simple, beautiful game.
David Conn, football’s most respected investigative journalist, chronicles the extraordinary history and staggering scale of corruption, paints revealing portraits of the men at the centre of Fifa – the power brokers, the indicted, the legends like Franz Beckenbauer and Michel Platini – and puts the allegations to Blatter himself in an extended interview.
The Fall of the House of Fifa is the definitive story of Fifa’s rise and the most spectacular fall sport has ever seen.
Beautifully written, well-researched, and deeply disturbing, this is a guilty pleasure of a read.
Documenting the rise of FIFA as an amateur organisation to the global powerhouse it is today, the author sets out credible and (sadly) believable evidence of the corruption that took root and slowly yet steadily sapped the organisation of funds that should have gone back into football and not into individuals’ pockets. A culture of bribery for self-enrichment and power, this is a harsh indictment on the governing body of world football.
Despite dealing with a non-fiction topic, the pace and poetic feel to the writing draws you in like the best of thrillers. And, in a way, this is exactly what this book is: a thriller tale of corruption, fraud, and bribery conducted by men charged with the governance of the wonderful sport that so many (including myself) love – and of how they proceeded to bleed it dry. It is a story that nobody wants to be true, but is profoundly convincing. It is, in short, a brilliant, compulsive yet deeply depressing read.