FIFA Pulls Back the Curtain, but Will It Ever See the Light?

The tag is inadequate: What Garcia depicts is the cravenness and venality, the arrogance and anger, the greed and the grasping of soccer’s governing body and the men who had come to dominate it.

He does it so relentlessly that, by the end, the effect should be so draining, so head-spinning and soul-sapping, as to be faintly dystopian. That it is not is only because so many of the demands made by FIFA’s self-enriching, self-interested guardians of the game are so comic.

There is the story of Jack Warner trying to persuade England’s bid team to get his lawyer’s son a job, and then taking umbrage when the employment was not quite good enough. He did the same when England agreed to stage two games involving Trinidad and Tobago’s under-20 team, but did not think to pay its airfare.


Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago served as the president of Concacaf from 1990 to 2011.

Alva Viarruel/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

There is Nicolás Leoz, the Paraguayan delegate, playing the role of a particularly unconvincing Bond villain by asking England for the chance to meet the Queen, a knighthood and that the F.A. Cup be named after him.

Or Michel D’Hooghe, FIFA’s chief medical officer, receiving a painting as a gift from Vyacheslav Koloskov, an adviser to the Russian bid and a “close personal friend” to the Belgian for 20 years. D’Hooghe attempted to stave off allegations of corruption by declaring that he found out the painting was worthless and that he hated it so much that he tried to palm it off on his secretary, who also hated it.

There is Harold Mayne-Nicholls, head of FIFA’s bid evaluation team, trying to persuade Qatar’s Aspire Academy, its state-of-the-art training center, to let his son and another player go there and train, a request so brazen that the Qataris, whose methods take up the…

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