Megan Rapinoe and Rachel Maddow talk FIFA and the World Cup

On Wednesday, just in time for the start of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the U.S. Department of Justice decided to throw the nation’s attention toward the beautiful game a bit early when they indicted nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives for corruption and conspiracy. 

According to the DOJ, these executives at FIFA or the Fédération Internationale de Football Association and CONCACAF, the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, have been involved in a 24-year plot to benefit themselves through racketeering and bribery. Utilizing the contracts for the rights to broadcast tournaments such as the World Cup, the officials allegedly drummed up “well over $150 million in bribes and kickbacks” from sports marketing executives. 

The corruption within FIFA is not really news. Those who love the game carry a certain guilt in regards to its governing body, as John Oliver explained so well prior to the men’s World Cup in 2014.

These new charges allege corrupt practices back through 1991, but even in the last few years, the number of questionable actions, comments, and decisions by FIFA and its officials quickly raised eyebrows.  The issues with the 2022 World Cup in Qatar are first and foremost worth mentioning. Hopefully, all these eyes on FIFA now will lead to some resolution there, at best a new location for 2022.

But, how does this affect things for the World Cup in the next month? Well FIFA and FIFA President Sepp Blatter (Blatter has not been indicted and thus far is not stepping down by the way) have sadly already had their negative impact on the women’s game. U.S. Women’s National Team Midfielder Megan Rapinoe sat down with Rachel Maddow last night and talked about some of the inequality for the men’s and women’s tournaments starting with the turf issue, as well as Blatter’s suggestion that women play in volleyball-style shorts since “they already have some different rules to men – such as playing with a lighter ball.”  The women don’t play with a lighter ball, but apparently the self proclaimed “godfather” to women’s soccer didn’t know that.

The point is, the impact of FIFA has already been felt for the players of the rapidly approaching World Cup, and it will continue to be felt each time they fall on turf instead of grass, unfortunately. But they’ve prepared for that. And while they probably weren’t quite as prepared to be asked about federal indictments during press conferences and interviews, hopefully that’s the only unexpected, FIFA-caused distraction for them during the tournament.