While many of us are excited about the World Cup, it's impossible to ignore the misdeeds of the people behind FIFA, soccer's governing body.
John Oliver tore the organization a new one in a recent 13-minute segment, calling them "cartoonishly evil." Journalists such as Andrew Jennings and David Yallop have spent years uncovering instances of corruption that have marred FIFA's legitimacy as an organization and brought the game into disrepute.
Their discoveries shouldn't go unnoticed as countries go head-to-head. Here are 15 reasons why FIFA is the worst.
Its Former President Took Major Bribes
Former FIFA president João Havelange took $1 million in bribes from a sports marketing company, said an ethics committee report. The money crossed now-president Sepp Blatter's desk, but he claimed he didn't know it was a bribe.
The Current President Sucked Up To A Dictator
FIFA president Sepp Blatter paid a friendly visit to Liberian president Charles Taylor in 1999 to thank the dictator for his support in the previous year's FIFA elections. Taylor would later be found guilty of war crimes at The Hague, but his atrocities were well known at the time of Blatter's visit, says journalist Andrew Jennings.
And Other Pleasant Fellows
In 2009, Blatter handed a FIFA medal to Moldovan president Vladimir Voronin, just as the politician had been suspected of torture and voting fraud.
Some Officials Make Racist Statements
"I do not believe a Jew can ever be a referee at this level. It's hard work and, you know, Jews don't like hard work." - FIFA senior vice-president Julio Grondona, on refereeing standards in Argentina, in 2003.
And Others Have Tricky Fingers
It Limits Freedom of the Press
FIFA threatened to ban reporters from the 2010 World Cup if they wrote stories that brought the organization into "disrepute."
It Banned A Soccer Legend When He Alleged Corruption
Pelé once accused the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) of corruption after its chief, Ricardo Teixeira, allegedly asked for a $1 million bribe as the soccer legend sought broadcast rights to the 1994 World Cup. Then-FIFA president João Havelange subsequently struck Pelé’s name from a guest list for the World Cup draw in 1993.
It Banned Newspaper Vending Near Stadiums in 2010
FIFA banned street vendors from selling newspapers near stadiums at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, despite it being an activity that helps poorer citizens make money.
Officials Allegedly Solicit Bribes To Support Bids
Former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner (pictured) asked for a reported £2.5 million payment as countries looked to snag the 2018 World Cup, former English bid chairman Lord Triesman told a select committee in 2011. He also alleged that Nicolás Leoz, a FIFA member from Paraguay, asked for a knighthood.
Bribery Allegations Surround Qatar's World Cup Bid
Former FIFA vice-president Mohammed Bin Hammam paid soccer officials US $5 million to support Qatar's World Cup bid, claims The Sunday Times. Qatar denies wrongdoing and says Bin Hammam had no official role in its bid.
And This Is How The President Responds
Sepp Blatter called criticism of Qatar's successful World Cup bid "racist." He also said that people were "plotting to destroy" FIFA, though he never specified who he was talking about.
Its People Dodge Taxes
FIFA executive Ricardo Teixeira was convicted in 2009 of smuggling goods through customs as he and Brazil's national team returned from their World Cup victory in 1994. Teixeira threatened to cancel the victory parade if their baggage didn't go through unchecked.
And Set Up Havens In Host Countries
FIFA demands tax exemptions from countries bidding on the World Cup. This includes its "revenues, profits, income, expenses, costs, investments and any and all kinds of payments," according to a Dutch government memo.
It Doesn't Take Racism Very Seriously
Chelsea FC captain John Terry (right) was alleged to have racially abused Queens Park Rangers player Anton Ferdinand (left) during a game in 2011. How did Sepp Blatter respond? He downplayed the issue of racism, saying players should just settle it with a handshake. He later apologized.