The latest Netflix offering, “FIFA Uncovered,” has finally graced our screens and is produced by John Battsek and Miles Coleman. The documentary comprises interviews with some of the most prominent faces from the world of football, including Sepp Blatter, Gianni Infantino, Ken Bensinger, Hassan Al Thawadi, Mohammad Bin Hamam, and many more. The documentary series takes a deep dive into FIFA’s history and demonstrates how power struggles and politics infiltrated the House of FIFA and changed the game of football forever.
‘FIFA Uncovered’ Plot Synopsis: What Is The Documentary About?
The series starts with a media briefing that FIFA, a multi-billion dollar organization, is in the crosshairs after several prominent members were arrested on corruption, money laundering, and bribery charges. The news shook the world, as no one had suspected the house of FIFA would be on page 1 like this. Soon, the Department of Justice announced warrants against Webb Eduardo Li, Costas Takkas, Nicolas Leoz, Aaron Davidson, and more. The indictment suggested charges of racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering spanning a couple of decades. James Comey, Director of the FBI at that time, called the event “the world cup of fraud” and rhetorically issued the billion-dollar organization a “red card.”
Fifa was drowning in corruption, and Sepp Blatter was at the centre of it all. The entire world was booing FIFA for polluting the sacred game. Still, Sepp Blatter, who controls everything from developing football fields for children in undeveloped nations to organizing the World Cup, wasn’t ready to shoulder the blame. Even Vladimir Putin came to FIFA’s support, saying it’s another one of America’s obvious attempts to extend its jurisdiction to other countries.
“FIFA Uncovered,” the latest Netflix documentary, follows the story of The House of FIFA and how the sacred game fell victim to the curse of corruption.
The Seed Of Corruption
Fifa had its inception in 1904 and was built on the foundation of idealism and a shared love for football. What started as an amateur organization later grew up to be the FIFA we know now. In 1974, Havelange succeeded Stanley Rous in the FIFA presidential election, changing the organization forever. Havelange had some big plans for FIFA and enlisted the help of Sepp Blatter to develop the game and bring in stable and heavy revenue. In 1964, FIFA was short on cash, and Blatter realized it. Blatter met with Coca-Cola and announced a coalition between the two big world organizations. Soon after Coca-Cola, everyone, including Nike, Phillips, KLM, and Canon, joined the list of sponsors, and FIFA started making money, as did Havelange. He was so blinded by money that Havalenge even agreed to organize the 11th FIFA World Cup in Argentina when the nation was battling dictatorship and mass riots. The world opposed FIFA for this move, and many even compared it with the 1938 Olympics organized by Hitler. This was the time when corruption and politics started engulfing football. Soon Adidas paid Havalenge big cheques and secured the marketing rights of FIFA. Horst Dassler later set up companies and secured almost every right associated with FIFA in return for the enormous bribes he paid Havalenge under the table.
Sepp Blatter And FIFA
Blatter’s marketing genius made him the secretary general, and he uncovered proof that Havalenge was bribed by ISL and made a deal with Havalenge, securing his spot as the next FIFA president. Soon Jack Warner and Chuck Blazer joined the bandwagon, hoping to earn an extra buck, slowly turning FIFA into a cartel. Blatter dominated the 51st FIFA election and was appointed as the next FIFA President. After winning the ballot, Blatter started working on his plan to bring the world cup into Africa and to establish a dedicated FIFA headquarters in every nation, but the officials gobbled up all the money for the project. After ISL went bankrupt, FIFA lost its financial backbone, and Blatter needed an alternative soon. His problems were intensified when Zen-Ruffian uncovered secret documents and held Blatter accountable for money laundering and corruption. Things started to go downhill when Warner failed to come through on his promises to pay his players. Those who opposed Warner were blacklisted. According to records, more than $15 million in TT( Trinidad and Tobago) currency went unaccounted for, and many believe that Chuck and Warner embezzled it all. In 2002, after Apartheid ended and Mandela became the president of South Africa, Blatter came true to his promises and gave Africa a chance to host the FIFA World Cup. In return, South Africa paid $10 million to FIFA, but Jack Warner and Blazer kept the money for themselves.
Everyone knew what Warner, Blazer, and Blatter were doing, but no one pointed fingers. Those seated in the high chairs believed that it was their right to make money from the World Cup. Sepp Blatter had now started selling out FIFA and opened the bids for both the 2018 and 2022 world cups simultaneously to generate more revenue. The United States, Qatar, England, and Russia were the top contenders, putting in giant bids, and Russia and Qatar won the roulette. Sepp Blatter was abusing power vested in him to the fullest. He wasn’t a player but a businessman or salesman, selling the game to the highest bidder to stuff his pockets.
The Charges Coming To Light
The world was shocked when Qatar secured the chance to host the FIFA 2022 World Cup, landing Blatter and FIFA in hot water. Criticism began pouring in from everywhere, claiming FIFA to be corrupt and manipulative. There was no chance that Qatar could’ve won against the likes of the USA and Japan, and it was deemed unfit to host the event owing to the crime rates and weather, which touched the 106-degree mark in the summer. So, how did they win? Bribery? Obviously!
Qatar had paid millions in bribes to FIFA in order to secure the right to hold the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Qatar changed the game at the last moment and brought the votes of Jack Warner, Leoz, and Issa Hayatou. In its bid, Qatar promises to host the matches in its seven cities and 12 stadiums, of which nine would be newly built, and the remaining three would be renovated. Phaedra Alamzid, who worked on Qatar’s bid for the 2022 World Cup, was relieved of her duties and was given a three-day ultimatum to leave the state, but later blew the whistle on Qatar and penned an article accusing Qatar of corruption. She was forced to sign an affidavit accepting that she had lied, or else she’d be persuaded legally.
On the other hand, Mohammad bin Hamam was thinking of challenging Blatter for his position. Blatter promised Hamam the FIFA presidency after residing in the position for two terms but delayed his stay, making Hamam very upset. Hamam bribed the 25 members of the CFU to secure his seat in the upcoming FIFA presidential election. The news broke out, and Hamam drew huge backlash from the world. This proved to be the final nail in the coffin, and FIFA was heavily cornered and had no way to escape. To escape the issues, Blatter and bin Haman made an agreement to support the former in the next election. Hamam and Warner were both suspended on the allegations of bribery, and Blatter was cleared of all the wrongdoing. The FBI instigated an investigation after finding evidence of money laundering and tax evasion associated with Chuck Blazer. The FBI followed the paper trail and discovered how FIFA was laundering and moving money. FIFA arrested Blazer and made him an offer; Blazer agreed to become the informant, and he agreed. Chuck made a deal to stay out of prison and was provided with a key chain with an in-built mic to record conversations with his criminal confederate. The FBI finally had concrete evidence to arrest Jack Warner and arrested his son, who was laundering money into the United States and suggested the former CONCACAF president pony up for a good lawyer.
In their investigation, the FBI found that Jack Warner had been paid $10 million in bribes under the guise of a legacy program, aka the African Diaspora Fund. While this was going on, Blatter was again planning to extend his stay and win the election for the fifth time in a row. The FBI integrated every single piece of evidence they’d gathered and put in their indictment and were ready to reign chaos in the House of FIFA. The FBI arrested primary Exo members, including Jeffrey Webb (president of CONCACAF), Jack Warner, and Mariano Jinkis, but Blatter still managed to evade the handcuffs. To top it all out, Blatter even managed to secure the FIFA presidency for the fifth time. But in a stunning turn of events, the godfather of FIFA decided to step down. Michael Platini was supposed to succeed Blatter, but they both were suspended for three months when the FBI uncovered evidence of a $2 million Swiss franc transaction between Platini and Blatter. Later, the suspension was extended for eight years, and Blatter’s mighty reign spanning two decades ended in disgrace. Sepp Blatter has never pleaded guilty to any of the charges mentioned in the indictment and was later cleared by the Swiss court. After the scandal, Gianni Infantino took charge of FIFA in 2016 and had been working hard to restore FIFA’s lost glory. Chuck Blazer departed before he could be sentenced. Ricardo Teixeria and Jack Warner ran back to their home nation and are still being pursued by law enforcement.
Qatar survived the allegations and is still in line to host the FIFA 2022 World Cup.
“FIFA Uncovered” is a 2022 netflix documentary mini-series.