FIFA Is in the Midst of Another Scandal

FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association), the international governing body of soccer, has been involved in several corruption scandals over the years. The latest involves the naming of Lionel Messi, forward for FC Barcelona, as Player of the Year.

Messi was awarded the honor in September, but several voters say they did not vote for him and are now suggesting that the vote was fixed.

The contenders for Player of the Year

The top five contenders for the 2019 Player of the Year were:

  1. Lionel Messi, 32 year old Argentine forward who captains both Spanish club Barcelona and the Argentina national team.
  2. Virgil Van Dijk, 28 year old Dutch center-back for Premier League club Liverpool and captain of the Netherlands national team.
  3. Cristiano Ronaldo, 34 year old Portuguese forward for Serie A club Juventus and captain of the Portugal national team.
  4. Mohamed Salah, 27 year old Egyptian forward for Premier League club Liverpool and the Egypt national team.
  5. Sadio Mané, 27 year old Senegalese winger for Premier League club Liverpool and the Senegal national team. 

Did the votes count?

FIFA determines the player of the year based on the votes of national team coaches, captains, and one journalist from each represented country. After Messi was declared the winner, some of the voters took to social media to state that votes published in their names did not reflect their actual choices. 

Sudan’s coach, Zdravko Logarusic, said his first choice was Mohamed Salah, but FIFA’s voting document showed Messi as his first selection. Nicaragua’s captain, Juan Barrera, was also adamant that he did not vote for Messi. Egypt’s association called on FIFA to explain why the votes of its national coach Shawki Ghareeb and captain Ahmed El-Mohammadi, were not taken into account, after they were sent in on August 15. Their names were not mentioned in FIFA’s publication of official votes.

Earlier scandals for FIFA

FIFA has been at the center of scandals off and on for decades. In 2016, NBC News reported that Amnesty International had slammed the Qatari government for its alleged abuse of migrant workers building stadiums for the 2022 World Cup.

According to the BBC, 14 FIFA officials and associates were indicted on charges of “rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted” corruption following a major inquiry by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2015.

During that same year, FIFA President Sepp Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini were found guilty of breaches surrounding a $2 million “disloyal payment” made to Platini in 2011. The FIFA ethics committee said the pair had demonstrated an “abusive execution” of their positions.

Did Lionel Messi deserve to win?

Lionel Messi has been called the best soccer player on the planet. Former Barcelona team member, Neymar, actually left Spain to play for France because he felt he could never get out of Messi’s shadow.

Messi’s career almost didn’t happen, however. As a child, he was diagnosed with a hormone deficiency that stunted his growth, but he showed promise on the soccer field. When he was 13 years old, Messi was offered the chance to train at FC Barcelona’s youth academy, La Masa, plus have his medical bills covered.

At 16, he made his first appearance for the FC Barcelona and made history as the youngest soccer player ever to score a goal for the franchise. He proceeded to steer Barcelona to a wealth of success including the Champions League, La Liga, and Spanish Super Cup titles. 

Messi became the first player to score five goals in a Champions League. He became Barcelona’s all-time leading scorer. This is the sixth time that he has been honored with the Ballon d’Or Player of the Year trophy.