Russia is corrupt to the core, at least in the Putin-controlled iteration. Their interference with processes has been going on for a very long time. In fact, it dates back way before they upped their game by taking control of the Electoral College to place Donald Trump in the Oval Office. From the moment that Sepp Blatter announced that Russia and Qatar would host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, respectively, it was well recognized that FIFA and its officials had all been bribed.
In 2015, under the Obama Administration, Loretta Lynch actually indicted FIFA officials over their awarding of the 2018 and 2022 bids.
Of course the US doesn’t have standing any longer to fight corruption in an international organization such as FIFA, but the corrupt culture there seems to be endemic. Just this week, some days before the beginning of the 2018 World Cup, Adel Range Marwa, a Kenyan official, was caught in the act of accepting a $600 bribe from a Ghanaian authority associated with a game in which he would be serving as an assistant referee.
I have served as a soccer referee for many years in a girls’ league in New York City. An assistant referee is tasked not only with calling the direction of the ball when it goes out of play, but also with off-sides calls and with determining whether a goal has been scored. Given the importance of the position, I think a $600 bribe would even be cheap in a kids’ match in New York (and unless Michael Cohen had refereed, I would be inclined to say that nothing that small had ever been paid).
As our international order now seems to fall apart because of unwarranted tariffs, let’s recognize that in spite of the corruption of FIFA, soccer is the game of life. So, sit back, relax and enjoy watching Pogba, Pavard, Mbappe, Umtiti, Lloret and the French team win this thing.