On September 1, The Mob Museum, the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, will unveil “The ‘Beautiful Game’ Turns Ugly,” the newest display to be added to its growing collection. The display provides an incisive and eye-opening look into the rampant corruption that plagues the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the organization that runs international soccer. Through photographs, media clippings and cover stories and expository narrative, the Museum’s new FIFA exhibit gives a breakdown of the kickbacks, secrecy and match-fixing associated with the scandal.
“This exhibit is ripped right from today’s headlines about the globe’s most popular sport,” explains Jonathan Ullman, executive director, The Mob Museum. “To our growing number of visitors from places like the United Kingdom, Mexico, Brazil and Italy, the FIFA scandal provides an especially resonant example of the different shapes organized crime can take.”
While allegations of corruption have been made about FIFA for more than a decade, its activities were finally confirmed by U.S. FIFA representative Chuck Blazer in 2013. Blazer admitted to taking bribes to ensure South Africa would host the 2010 World Cup and agreed to wear a wire to record FIFA conversations. As a result of his cooperation, a May 2015 indictment by new U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch charged 14 top-ranking soccer officials and sports marketing executives with taking more than $150 million in bribes and kickbacks over 25 years.
The indictment was made based on the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act—known as the RICO statute—the federal law that has been used to prosecute organized crime in the United States. In 2014, U.K. journalist Andrew Jennings compared the practices of FIFA’s leadership to the Mob in his book, “Omerta: Sepp Blatter’s FIFA Organised Crime Family.”
“The ‘Beautiful Game’ Turns Ugly” will be on permanent display at The Mob Museum. For more information, go towww.TheMobMuseum.org or call (702) 229-2734.