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When Sepp Blatter joined FIFA in 1975 it had just twelve employees. Forty years later, the FBI have accused 14 executives of 47 counts of money laundering, racketeering and tax evasion linked to kickbacks totalling more than $150m. There's a fascinating story to be told here: how football got big, how FIFA got corrupt and what this means for soccer fans around the world. D When Sepp Blatter joined FIFA in 1975 it had just twelve employees. Forty years later, the FBI have accused 14 executives of 47 counts of money laundering, racketeering and tax evasion linked to kickbacks totalling more than $150m. There's a fascinating story to be told here: how football got big, how FIFA got corrupt and what this means for soccer fans around the world. David Conn, who covered the scandal for The Guardian is the man for the job, putting the recent uproar in the context of FIFA's history and showing how far the organization has strayed from its humble beginnings. The narrative will cover the story up to now, covering everything that happened since the scandal broke - the FBI's investigation, what happened to Blatter and Platini, enquiries into the 2022 World Cup, the comedy of errors surrounding who should take over the presidency and so on. Conn's previous book was called Searching for the Soul of Football--he sees this book as an expansion of that book: an inquiry into the soul of soccer on the global scale, as we take stock of this shocking scandal and try to return the original spirit to the beautiful game.


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When Sepp Blatter joined FIFA in 1975 it had just twelve employees. Forty years later, the FBI have accused 14 executives of 47 counts of money laundering, racketeering and tax evasion linked to kickbacks totalling more than $150m. There's a fascinating story to be told here: how football got big, how FIFA got corrupt and what this means for soccer fans around the world. D When Sepp Blatter joined FIFA in 1975 it had just twelve employees. Forty years later, the FBI have accused 14 executives of 47 counts of money laundering, racketeering and tax evasion linked to kickbacks totalling more than $150m. There's a fascinating story to be told here: how football got big, how FIFA got corrupt and what this means for soccer fans around the world. David Conn, who covered the scandal for The Guardian is the man for the job, putting the recent uproar in the context of FIFA's history and showing how far the organization has strayed from its humble beginnings. The narrative will cover the story up to now, covering everything that happened since the scandal broke - the FBI's investigation, what happened to Blatter and Platini, enquiries into the 2022 World Cup, the comedy of errors surrounding who should take over the presidency and so on. Conn's previous book was called Searching for the Soul of Football--he sees this book as an expansion of that book: an inquiry into the soul of soccer on the global scale, as we take stock of this shocking scandal and try to return the original spirit to the beautiful game.

30 review for The Fall of the House of Fifa: The Multimillion-Dollar Corruption at the Heart of Global Soccer

  1. 5 out of 5

    Quintin Zimmermann

    A dense, meticulous narrative of the corruption and subversion of the beautiful game. David Conn poignantly begins in relating his very first World Cup experiences as a child. My first nostalgic memories was the 1990 World Cup which I watched with my father, a proud German who jumped the Wall and immigrated to South Africa. Naturally, I supported West Germany and I can still recall our elation when they won the Final. While that match is often described as "one of the most cynical and ugliest Wor A dense, meticulous narrative of the corruption and subversion of the beautiful game. David Conn poignantly begins in relating his very first World Cup experiences as a child. My first nostalgic memories was the 1990 World Cup which I watched with my father, a proud German who jumped the Wall and immigrated to South Africa. Naturally, I supported West Germany and I can still recall our elation when they won the Final. While that match is often described as "one of the most cynical and ugliest World Cup Finals", for us it was a magical experience. My father has since passed away, but this remains one of my fondest memories of the time we spent together. What truly raised my ire is the part where our ailing, eighty-five year old Nelson Mandela was persuaded to take an arduous journey to the Caribbean "to abase himself this much, towards the end of his hard and exemplary life, before corrupt thieves like Blazer and Warner, to have Fifa locate its World Cup in South Africa, is repugnant now". Overall, The Fall of the House of FIFA just didn't grip me from cover to cover. There was also repetition of certain events. For instance, the incident of "brown envelopes" of cash in Trinidad was mentioned on twelve separate occasions. It was tedious at times wading through all of the exhaustive details of the corruption, especially without getting more of the motivations of the role-players and the emotional upheaval as the scandal unfolded. The book is written by a very talented journalist with extensive knowledge of the subject matter, but it felt like the narrative was being mostly relayed in the form of a long newspaper article - replete with facts and details, but short on the underlying human element.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Paul Brewer

    Some years ago, I read David Conn's book The Beautiful Game. It was alright, perhaps a bit romantic about an entertainment industry that happens to be a sport. So when this popped up on my library's 'new books' shelf at a time when I was feeling some interest in association football, I thought I'd give it a go. Conn is a good read in the newspaper, but I found this book a struggle. I persevered to the end, albeit skipping over some passages where he quotes at length from indictments or interviews Some years ago, I read David Conn's book The Beautiful Game. It was alright, perhaps a bit romantic about an entertainment industry that happens to be a sport. So when this popped up on my library's 'new books' shelf at a time when I was feeling some interest in association football, I thought I'd give it a go. Conn is a good read in the newspaper, but I found this book a struggle. I persevered to the end, albeit skipping over some passages where he quotes at length from indictments or interviews or some report of an inquiry. The trouble is the book is written like a really long newspaper article. So there is a statement about something, followed by a quotation from a source, and then a summary of the situation. When one reads 800-words about a football match or some transfer speculation, that's all well enough. But that method destroys the narrative drive required to sustain a book. This book should have made use of academic style footnotes. It would have made it a lot shorter, but the story of a mixture of corruption and willful blindness would have been more absorbing.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sajith Kumar

    Football is the most popular sport in the world. It is played everywhere on the planet from deserts to marshes, from icy cold Siberia to the sweltering dry grounds of Atacama. People who love football keep afresh the memory of the first World Cup they had watched on TV or at the stadium. As for me, it was the 1986 Mexico championship in which Maradona played out his magic that glued me to the sport. Since the game is known for its ubiquity, it is essential to religiously administer all aspects o Football is the most popular sport in the world. It is played everywhere on the planet from deserts to marshes, from icy cold Siberia to the sweltering dry grounds of Atacama. People who love football keep afresh the memory of the first World Cup they had watched on TV or at the stadium. As for me, it was the 1986 Mexico championship in which Maradona played out his magic that glued me to the sport. Since the game is known for its ubiquity, it is essential to religiously administer all aspects of the game such as its format, rules and tournaments so as to maintain uniformity. FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) does the job of governing the sport. Football associations in each country are clubbed together into continental confederations and all of them are affiliated to FIFA. It is surprising that the organization keeps itself intact given its huge size and responds with one voice on matters related to the game. A veil of secrecy covers its administration and the wider world was blissfully unaware of how decisions are made and the flow of money inside it. With the era of globalization, financial value of TV rights skyrocketed and FIFA became flush with cash. Under the façade of professional efficiency, a corrosive torrent of corruption was eating away at the internals of the organization. Though rumours and isolated exposures had begun right from 2002, it was the large scale arrest of a third of the body’s executive committee members in 2015 that shattered its image. Joseph Blatter, the president who was in power from 1998 onwards had to make an ignominious exit soon after. David Conn examines the history of FIFA in detail from 1974 and exposes the shady deals as well as the perpetrators. Himself a football fan, his indignation at the audacious mismanagement by a clutch of venal politicians comes out loud in insightful analysis and exposition. The author is a British sports journalist and writes for ‘The Guardian’ and has three books to his credit. A brief history of football adds interest to the first chapters as most fans are ignorant of the origins of the game they love. Football came into being in England. The ball, its proportions, layout of the pitch and rules of engagement were finalized at meetings of the FA (Football Association of England) at the Freemason’s Tavern in London’s Lincoln Inn in 1863. FIFA itself was formed in Paris in 1904 when office bearers from seven European nations assembled to create an international organization for the development and propagation of football. The FA joined it a few years later. Perhaps this explains the French name of the association. With the introduction of World Cup competitions from 1930, football began its onward march to the pinnacle among the world’s popular sports, but the financial position of FIFA was not secure. Cash began to flow literally when FIFA sold transmission rights of the championships to television networks in the 1990s. People who headed FIFA in those days were mostly amateurs who worked dedicatedly to the good of the game. The author surmises that FIFA’s downturn in moral terms began with the ascent of Joao Havelange. He was a Brazilian businessman and sports administrator. He defeated Stanley Rous to become the President in an election in which the African associations wholeheartedly lined up behind him. Havelange ensured their support by paying their pending dues and offering money for development of football in their countries. Joseph Blatter was his secretary-general and he stepped into his shoes in 1998 when Havelange retired. Much more trouble awaited FIFA in Blatter’s election. A major portion of the book is left aside to reveal the corrupt officials of FIFA and their underhand deals. The first scandal came out in 2002 and then it grew into a steady stream in the years ahead. Aspiring presidents had to grease the palms of the heads of national football bodies that make a collegium to elect the president. Havelange is discredited for his bribing in 1974 and Blatter in 1998. Allegations surfaced in 2015 and FIFA instituted action against Blatter and Michel Platini, the French football legend and UEFA president, over 2 million Swiss francs paid by Blatter to Platini supposedly to ensure his support for the latter in the presidential elections of 2011. Both men claimed that it was back pay for the period when Platini worked as a FIFA consultant. The strange part of the deal was that this claim was substantiated by nothing more than an oral agreement between the two made in 1998! Both failed to convince an ethics committee set up to investigate and they were thrown out of the organization for many years. In 2011, the Qatar official Mohammed bin Hammam announced that he was contesting against Blatter, but withdrew just four days prior to voting when news emerged that he had handed out cash bribes to officials of the American confederations at a Trinidad hotel. The Concacaf is the confederation steeped in corruption when it was revealed that the Dr. Joao Havelange Centre for Excellence at Trinidad for promoting training and development of promising youth, and built with $25 million of FIFA money was in fact personally owned by Jack Warner, the confederation’s president. Both Michel Platini and Franz Beckenbauer, who were legends when they played, were disgraced by their work in football’s administrative bodies. Another area of malpractice is the allocation of TV rights for which the companies regularly pay kickbacks to officials. Even Havelange is implicated in this. Havelange himself and his son-in-law and President of the CBF Ricardo Teixeira took 41 million Swiss francs in bribes from ISL Company in return for selling TV rights for the World Cups in 2002 and 2006. FIFA settled this issue out of court by paying back the sums taken by the accused. It is shocking for the fans to learn that bribes were paid to the associations even to field star players in tournaments. Allocation of venues for World Cup is another cash cow for the corrupt. . South Africa paid $10 million for hosting the 2010 World Cup to buy votes of the Caribbean officials under the cover of a development program for African diaspora in America. Football world was amazed in 2010 when FIFA voted to hoist the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 event in Qatar which was nothing more than a city state. The US was a contestant for the 2022 Cup, and the casual way in which its bid was overlooked by the money power of the Gulf state infuriated its law enforcement agencies. In May 2015, a third of the members of FIFA executive committee were arrested just before voting began for Blatter’s fifth term in office and were charged under US law The book is a fine piece of investigative journalism and is an attempt to cleanse FIFA of its endemic corruption. It is, however, a bit tiring in the latter half as the author develops the plot of payments to corrupt officials which is already hinted at in the earlier part. Even though not directly related to the topic of corruption, a few photographs would’ve added much visual appeal. The book is provided with a good index. The book is highly recommended.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    A great study of corruption. Sir Stanley Rous must be turning in his grave.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    Beautifully written, well-researched, and deeply disturbing, this is a guilty pleasure of a read. Documenting the rise of FIFA as an amateur organisation to the global powerhouse it is today, the author sets out credible and (sadly) believable evidence of the corruption that took root and slowly yet steadily sapped the organisation of funds that should have gone back into football and not into individuals’ pockets. A culture of bribery for self-enrichment and power, this is a harsh indictment on Beautifully written, well-researched, and deeply disturbing, this is a guilty pleasure of a read. Documenting the rise of FIFA as an amateur organisation to the global powerhouse it is today, the author sets out credible and (sadly) believable evidence of the corruption that took root and slowly yet steadily sapped the organisation of funds that should have gone back into football and not into individuals’ pockets. A culture of bribery for self-enrichment and power, this is a harsh indictment on the governing body of world football. Despite dealing with a non-fiction topic, the pace and poetic feel to the writing draws you in like the best of thrillers. And, in a way, this is exactly what this book is: a thriller tale of corruption, fraud, and bribery conducted by men charged with the governance of the wonderful sport that so many (including myself) love – and of how they proceeded to bleed it dry. It is a story that nobody wants to be true, but is profoundly convincing. It is, in short, a brilliant, compulsive yet deeply depressing read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Matt Lieberman

    David Conn begins his exhaustive chronicle of FIFA's recent sordid affairs on an uncharacteristically bright note, spending the first chapter describing how he was enraptured by the 1974 World Cup as a 9 year-old. Every four years the World Cup comes around and mesmerizes and brings joy to fans across the globe and reaffirms that soccer is at its core a game designed to offer pleasure to players and spectators. 1974 marked a transitional year for the sport's global governing body, FIFA, as Brazi David Conn begins his exhaustive chronicle of FIFA's recent sordid affairs on an uncharacteristically bright note, spending the first chapter describing how he was enraptured by the 1974 World Cup as a 9 year-old. Every four years the World Cup comes around and mesmerizes and brings joy to fans across the globe and reaffirms that soccer is at its core a game designed to offer pleasure to players and spectators. 1974 marked a transitional year for the sport's global governing body, FIFA, as Brazilian business Joao Havelange won the presidency over Englishman Stanley Rous, who embraced a purer, less commercial approach to soccer. In The Fall in the House of FIFA, Conn gives an exhaustive account of FIFA's indiscretions over the last 40 years and describes how the organization strayed from its humble beginnings. Conn reported on much of FIFA's recent misdeeds, including corrupt bidding processes for the World Cups in Qatar and South Africa, misappropriations of development funds for domestic Football Associations, rigged presidential elections, and the like, for The Guardian and serves as an able guide through FIFA's bad behavior. Conn's book is an authoritative tome on FIFA corruption, though it occasionally gets a bit dry. I would put it front and center of the syllabus of any college course on the dark sides of Swiss-based international sporting organizations worth its salt, but it can become a grind for the more casual reader. Given the massive sponsorships and television audiences attracted by global soccer today, it is remarkable how modest FIFA's origins were. Formed in 1904 in the backroom of the Union Francaise de Sports Athletiques building in Paris, FIFA started with only 7 members (with snooty England sitting out) and was designed for the express purpose of facilitating games between nations. Somewhat ironically, FIFA ruled that "no person should be allowed to arrange matches for personal profit." Over the years, FIFA would morph into a sporting and economic juggernaut, consisting of over 200 nations (as anyone who has ever been exposed to one iota of FIFA's self-congratulatory behavior already knows, the organization features more members than the United Nations). Conn tracks the evolution of the organization and the figures who shaped its trajectory. While Conn peppers in a few on-field accounts of various World Cups, much of the action in his book takes place in backrooms, hotel rooms, and offices, and he focuses mostly on off-field affairs. The meat of Fall in the House of FIFA understandably centers around the organization's nadir that had its roots in its initial forays into mega-sponsorships with a deal with Coca Cola in the early 70s and eventually culminated in Sepp Blatter, Jack Warner, Chuck Blazer, and other FIFA officials' downfalls over the last few years. Blatter took over from Havelange in 1998 running against a more reform-minded candidate, and winning the election under rumors of vote-buying. While Qatar's successful World Cup bid was the last straw for Blatter and is probably the misdeed most familiar to Americans likely still sore over losing hosting rights, Blatter's term was marred by a plethora of other problems, including funneling/bribing local FAs with humongous sums of money for grassroots soccer. Blatter did not act alone and there are substantial chapters devoted to other major players such as CONCACAF executives Chuck Blazer and Jack Warner and UEFA President Michel Platini. Conn is evenhanded with his writing, acknowledging the good that these officials did to promote the sport in their regions in spite of their less-magnanimous activities that earn the most of his attention. The book reads like an extended investigative newspaper article, meticulously researched with ample detail, though it can begin to feel like a slog if you are less interested in reading about political corruption. I wish there was more analysis into the psyches of these executives and what compelled them to take bribes and otherwise behave poorly, but in Conn's defense the vast majority of his subjects have clammed up and aren't willing to divulge much at all, basically leaving him stuck detailing the "what" over the "why." Conn does offer some analysis on what mechanisms helped facilitate FIFA's corruption, including the odd voting policies that often granted nations such as Montserrat (population 4,900) just as much voting clout as Germany. The book ends on an especially strong note with an extended interview with Sepp Blatter. While Blatter was evasive and guarded when Conn reached out to the former FIFA head earlier in the book, he is far more open to the author in his later interview, reflecting on his tenure and final days as president. He's not the most regretful person in the world and still makes some effort to protect his character (though it's safe to say he's probably ruled out ever winning the Nobel Prize by now) but it's still a good read and was the highlight of the book for me. Overall, your enjoyment of The Fall in the House of FIFA is going to depend on how interesting you are in the subject. If you are looking for a one-stop book that outlines the history of FIFA and an encyclopedic account of its recent corruption and the fall of Sepp Blatter, you'll probably love the book. If you are interested in soccer as a sport as well as an economic and sociological phenomenon but you aren't that keen on reading about FBI investigations and accounts of executives behaving badly, then I'd advise you to stay away. Having said that, The Fall in the House of FIFA deftly accomplishes what it set out to do and is an authoritative and informative account of FIFA's recent activity. 7 / 10

  7. 5 out of 5

    Aaron McQuiston

    David Conn writes about soccer for the Guardian and has written a handful of books about various soccer related subjects. Conn is also a fan and as a kid in 1974, watching the World Cup on television, he fell in love with the game, can still describe a dribble that Johan Cruyff used to trick an opponent (footage available on YouTube), and has a firm belief that soccer is one of the purest, bridge-building sports in the world. So for Conn to get in the middle of the corruption of Fifa, Concacaf, David Conn writes about soccer for the Guardian and has written a handful of books about various soccer related subjects. Conn is also a fan and as a kid in 1974, watching the World Cup on television, he fell in love with the game, can still describe a dribble that Johan Cruyff used to trick an opponent (footage available on YouTube), and has a firm belief that soccer is one of the purest, bridge-building sports in the world. So for Conn to get in the middle of the corruption of Fifa, Concacaf, and the world of Soccer, you can tell that Conn does not want to say everything that is to be reported. His chapter on Franz Beckenbauer, the captain of the West Germany team, is loaded with disappointment in a man that Conn obviously respected until his fall as well. Disappointment in the entire global football governing bodies is well laid out in this report. "The Fall of the House of Fifa" feels more like a report than anything. As Conn unravels in the corruption and bribery throughout not only the current Fifa, where 14 of the 22 people of the most senior members of Fifa, those who voted for the World Cup to be in Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022, have had criminal or ethics charges against them since, the truth is that the corruption does not start there. Since the beginning, since Adidas found a way to get their boots and kits on every player, by digging their fingers into Fifa's operating procedures and keeping them there, Fifa has never really been a governing body on the straight and narrow. The corruption lies in two forms: where the games are going to be played and who is going to broadcast them. When television rights became a commodity, it drove the price of the games higher and those places that wanted to host international competition had to spend more and more money to get them. The problem was where the money was going, not to youth programs and building pitches in poor countries and helping out the global communities, but to those in charge, for houses and swimming pools and expensive appetites. "The Fall of the House of Fifa" is a dense work that unravels the webs of corruption and guilt, not flinching when Conn has to bring down his heroes along with the villains. If you are only a casual fan of soccer or if you have no interest in the wheeling and dealing behind the scenes, this is not for you. This is for the reader who likes a good money story and for those who can feel Conn's pain as he uncovers the truth about something that we all have found to have great importance in our lives as sports fans. Corruption is not a new thing for Fifa, and even though Conn's book goes through much of the money, bribery, and deals that made the organization one of the most corrupt financially in the world, he does not get into the other corruption, like that Joao Havelange, the Fifa president from 1974 to 1998, hinting that the 1966 and 1974 World Cups were rigged, but as a whole, "The Fall of the House of Fifa" is so much information, so dense with thievery and bribery, that it is unable to escape the pages without having a tarnished perspective of the soccer you loved because of the pitch, not because of how the teams got there. With soccer more than any sport, it feels like the more a person scratches the surface, the more dirt comes appears. I received an ARC through NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lance

    Shock waves were sent through the soccer world when it was announced that the 2022 World Cup tournament would be held in Qatar during the summer months of the northern hemisphere. Many asked how this could happen and what was the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) thinking when they did this. A subsequent investigation found that allegations of kickbacks, bribery, money laundering and tax evasion played a big role in this announcement and also the awarding of the 2018 World Shock waves were sent through the soccer world when it was announced that the 2022 World Cup tournament would be held in Qatar during the summer months of the northern hemisphere. Many asked how this could happen and what was the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) thinking when they did this. A subsequent investigation found that allegations of kickbacks, bribery, money laundering and tax evasion played a big role in this announcement and also the awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia. These well-known incidents of corruption, as well as lesser known ones, some dating back to the 1970’s, are covered in this well-researched and through book on FIFA by award winning writer David Conn. He exposes so many incidents of bribery and other questionable actions by FIFA officials that one may get lost trying to keep them all straight. The old vendor cry that you can’t keep the players straight without a scorecard is applicable here, even though there is very little written about the actual games on the pitch. Some of the specifics in the reports and interviews of the book will leave the reader shaking his or her head. One of these passages that did that for me was in the report of an investigation in bribery accusations, FIFA “believed bribery was a part of the routine facts of life in South America and Africa.” This after the organization had denied any corruption in those areas after sending millions of dollars for development of the game and facilities in which to play. If you are confused after reading that, then so was I. That was just one passage of many that highlight the extent of the corruption in the organization and Conn writes about them with the knowledge only a veteran writer of the sport and the organization can do. His interview with FIFA President Sepp Blatter was also must-read material. This book is one that readers who are interested in the inner workings, good and bad (mostly the latter) of one of the biggest sports institutions in the world must add to their bookshelves. I wish to thank the Nation Press for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. http://sportsbookguy.blogspot.com/201...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kavinay

    Jack Warner, Chuck Blazer, Michel Platini, Sepp Blatter. All giants of global football administration and now all banned from the sport. What Conn takes his time to lay out--but what ultimately makes the book quite profound--is the idea that "European standards of governance" are every bit as troubling as the corruption accepted as a cultural flaw of the non-European members of FIFA. In many ways, this book is a dirge for FIFA's posturing as a humanitarian institution. Yet, Conn still keeps it en Jack Warner, Chuck Blazer, Michel Platini, Sepp Blatter. All giants of global football administration and now all banned from the sport. What Conn takes his time to lay out--but what ultimately makes the book quite profound--is the idea that "European standards of governance" are every bit as troubling as the corruption accepted as a cultural flaw of the non-European members of FIFA. In many ways, this book is a dirge for FIFA's posturing as a humanitarian institution. Yet, Conn still keeps it engaging for lovers of the game by highlighting how little of the decision making within FIFA had any relevance to the interests of sport relative to the enrichment of powerbrokers. So much of sports journalism is hagiography of utter bastards and Conn doesn't get sucked in. The one truly redeeming moment of the whole telling is the revelation that a crowd of French fans resoundingly booed Platini's image as the national team was poised to win the Euros on home soil.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brendan Crowley

    I greatly enjoyed this book on FIFA's troubled history. Its extensively researched and well written. As a follower of David's writing in the Guardian the book lives up to expectations. Its a sad reminder of the scale of corruption and the breath of individuals involved. Blatter emerges as not quite the villain but rather the enabler and master politician. There is plenty of new material even for those following FIFA closely, especially a fascinating interview with a post retirement Blatter. The I greatly enjoyed this book on FIFA's troubled history. Its extensively researched and well written. As a follower of David's writing in the Guardian the book lives up to expectations. Its a sad reminder of the scale of corruption and the breath of individuals involved. Blatter emerges as not quite the villain but rather the enabler and master politician. There is plenty of new material even for those following FIFA closely, especially a fascinating interview with a post retirement Blatter. The only criticism is that it is a bit too detailed at times. Sometimes the narrative could be shortened and there is a bit of repetition at times. All in all its a highly recommend for anyone interest in football politics or just good journalism. (I received a free copy of this book via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

    I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. The book is masterfully researched, and depressing for any football (soccer) fan to read. The enormity of the unabashed corruption surrounding this organization is astonishing. Each time you would read about a scandal, you would assume that the current scandal would be the last, and the organization would begin to redeem itself, only to discover another scandal almost immediately afterwards. You do not have to I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. The book is masterfully researched, and depressing for any football (soccer) fan to read. The enormity of the unabashed corruption surrounding this organization is astonishing. Each time you would read about a scandal, you would assume that the current scandal would be the last, and the organization would begin to redeem itself, only to discover another scandal almost immediately afterwards. You do not have to be a fan of the sport to gain something from this book, but it would certainly help you in doing so. I went back and forth between rating this book 3 or 4 stars, but went with 4 simply because of the level of research the author obviously poured into this book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ystyn Francis

    This revealing, if not slightly repetitive, look behind the scenes of the FIFA scandals undercovered over the last couple of years was somewhat heartbreaking to read. Woven throughout the expose is the fact that, no matter what, money corrupts. The power and reach of FIFA is such that their potential to do so much good both and off the field - especially in third world countries - is potentially unparalleled. Sepp Blatter was even arrowing for FIFA to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. Unfortunatel This revealing, if not slightly repetitive, look behind the scenes of the FIFA scandals undercovered over the last couple of years was somewhat heartbreaking to read. Woven throughout the expose is the fact that, no matter what, money corrupts. The power and reach of FIFA is such that their potential to do so much good both and off the field - especially in third world countries - is potentially unparalleled. Sepp Blatter was even arrowing for FIFA to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. Unfortunately, greed won, and despite being obnoxiously excited for this year's World Cup in Russia, it now will be tainted by the stink of a broken system that screws over the little guy. The saying "Sport is like life" has never been more appropriate.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    Excellent book, brilliantly researched and presented in a easy to read style. I’m sure it leaves no,stone unturned as it seems to have covered all the low-life that we’re residing there, including Blatter, Havelange, Platini, Beckenbauer and a host of others lining their pockets with others peoples' money. As a England fan, our FA representatives (and others) were finally proved to be right about the massive endemic corruption, fraud and bribery from within the 'House of FIFA'. But, there are stil Excellent book, brilliantly researched and presented in a easy to read style. I’m sure it leaves no,stone unturned as it seems to have covered all the low-life that we’re residing there, including Blatter, Havelange, Platini, Beckenbauer and a host of others lining their pockets with others peoples' money. As a England fan, our FA representatives (and others) were finally proved to be right about the massive endemic corruption, fraud and bribery from within the 'House of FIFA'. But, there are still a few chapters yet to be written as the average working class football fan will hopefully get to see justice served on these criminals.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Steven Pilling

    This is forensic reporting of the top order. Conn takes you through the history and dishonour of fifa in such a way that you can not fail to see the disgrace. This is not the cd version but the netgalley version. There are no heroes in this book and people who are unfamiliar with Conn's work would be better suited to start with richer than god but it has a righteous anger that is necessary in this time This is forensic reporting of the top order. Conn takes you through the history and dishonour of fifa in such a way that you can not fail to see the disgrace. This is not the cd version but the netgalley version. There are no heroes in this book and people who are unfamiliar with Conn's work would be better suited to start with richer than god but it has a righteous anger that is necessary in this time

  15. 5 out of 5

    Matt Reichbach

    detailed look at a corrupt organization There will be many books written a bout corruption in FIFA, especially as more information comes to light. This book details the corruption that we know of dating back decades in an in-depth way, remaining credulous even as the acts themselves are a farce. Worth reading by any fan of soccer who can separate the game from the organization that runs it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jubin Chheda

    This is a magnum opus of investigative and compilative journalism -- it has the makings of a great movie. The characters, the money, the curroption and the high life. The kicker is that it doesn't really shock you even as newer and newer layers are uncovered. I will knock off a star just because it drags in the last third a little bit -- worth the read even so. Every world cup fan should read this and dare I say, act on the info. This is a magnum opus of investigative and compilative journalism -- it has the makings of a great movie. The characters, the money, the curroption and the high life. The kicker is that it doesn't really shock you even as newer and newer layers are uncovered. I will knock off a star just because it drags in the last third a little bit -- worth the read even so. Every world cup fan should read this and dare I say, act on the info.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Chris Jaffe

    Good book, but I couldn't get into it. I'd already read "The Ugly Game" by Heidi Blake & Jonathan Calvert, and a lot of this felt like a rehash. That isn't really fair because this is more broad in its coverage, and goes closer to the present than that book did - but much of the first half of this covers a lot of the same ground as that book, so I ended up skimming a lot. Good book, but I couldn't get into it. I'd already read "The Ugly Game" by Heidi Blake & Jonathan Calvert, and a lot of this felt like a rehash. That isn't really fair because this is more broad in its coverage, and goes closer to the present than that book did - but much of the first half of this covers a lot of the same ground as that book, so I ended up skimming a lot.

  18. 4 out of 5

    M Pereira

    I have come to know David Conn's work from The Guardian. This book length treatment of the Fifa corruption scandals is chilling. It is interesting that a sport beloved by so many around the world, is such a hotbed of insttitutional corruption. Fifa and the organisation of professional football/soccer is very much an arm of capitalism and corrupt capitalism at that. I have come to know David Conn's work from The Guardian. This book length treatment of the Fifa corruption scandals is chilling. It is interesting that a sport beloved by so many around the world, is such a hotbed of insttitutional corruption. Fifa and the organisation of professional football/soccer is very much an arm of capitalism and corrupt capitalism at that.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    This is a wonderful book that is difficult to read, otherwise I would give it five stars. It needs three appendices: a list of the organizations, a list of the people and a chronology. If I were to read it again, I'd make notes. It appears that the book was rushed into publication and could have used one more tough edit. The benefit of having it now is that the final reporting is very timely. This is a wonderful book that is difficult to read, otherwise I would give it five stars. It needs three appendices: a list of the organizations, a list of the people and a chronology. If I were to read it again, I'd make notes. It appears that the book was rushed into publication and could have used one more tough edit. The benefit of having it now is that the final reporting is very timely.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Justin Britton

    Highly recommend, even if you’re not a football fan. You can really get a sense of how much time and research the author put in to detailing the crazy corruption of FIFA over so many years. Solid read, Pre-world Cup.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Krystyn

    Interesting topic. Well researched. Poorly organized and edited. There is a lot of repetition in this book and a lot of jumping around in the timeline. As a result, it was hard to follow in a few places. Some scenes are described in detail and pull you in. Other sections, not so much.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Robert Whitehouse

    More a book about organized crime than football, this is an exceptionally detailed account of the internal corruption and moral decay of FIFA between 1978 and 2016.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gurjinder

    Very informative story on what lead to the investigation of FIFA ad arrest of executives in 2015. David Conn goes into a deeper look into the corruption of FIFA and its history under Sepp Blatter.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Emanuel Ramos

    Great book outlying the rise and fall of FIFA, but wow, so much detail. Mind-numbing almost.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    A little on the dense side, but a very interesting read and good for audio.

  26. 5 out of 5

    SpaceBear

    A great read on the history of FIFA, and the role corruption has played in the organization since it was founded. With special focus on the corruption case that broke in 2015.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Peter Harland

    Now we know , great read

  28. 4 out of 5

    DAER

    Interesting only if you are really really really interested. Very well researched, poorly written. I mean it's long form investigative journalism. Don't expect too much style or flare. Interesting only if you are really really really interested. Very well researched, poorly written. I mean it's long form investigative journalism. Don't expect too much style or flare.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Pierre

    A good one on the numerous FIFA scandals. It allowed me to get a clear and comprehensive view on them. Well written, the book is a page-turner.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Max Nova

    Full review and highlights at https://books.max-nova.com/fall-of-fifa It's World Cup time, so what could be more appropriate for my 2018 "Year of Crime and Punishment" to read David Conn's "The Fall of the House of Fifa"? Unfortunately, this book gets so bogged down in the details that it's tough to understand the big-picture mechanics of how money was moving around within Fifa. The numerous typos and uninspired writing style also contribute to its 2-star rating. However, if you're willing to slo Full review and highlights at https://books.max-nova.com/fall-of-fifa It's World Cup time, so what could be more appropriate for my 2018 "Year of Crime and Punishment" to read David Conn's "The Fall of the House of Fifa"? Unfortunately, this book gets so bogged down in the details that it's tough to understand the big-picture mechanics of how money was moving around within Fifa. The numerous typos and uninspired writing style also contribute to its 2-star rating. However, if you're willing to slog through hundreds of pages of details about one of the world's most profitable sports bureaucracies, you'll discover a pattern that has become familiar in my 2018 reading theme. As John Oliver famously popularized in his "Last Week Tonight segment on FIFA", FIFA insider Sepp Blatter presided over a global patronage system that distributed the riches generated by the worldwide soccer phenomenon. And to be fair, the global soccer juggernaut was largely the creation of FIFA. But Conn traces how even from the mid 1900's, the millions (and eventually billions) of dollars flowing into FIFA from advertisers began to corrupt its institutional governance. By the late 1990's, FIFA's revenue boomed as lucrative TV deals transformed the FIFA World Cup into one of the world's premier entertainment events. With its opaque governing structure and Swiss headquarters (bribery isn't illegal in Switzerland - wild), FIFA was an almost irresistable magnet for corruption. Conn tries to help us see that a big part of the issue was that each country in FIFA was entitled to an equal vote. Because the desperately poor countries of Africa and the Carribbean were so numerous, FIFA power players like Jack Warner and Chuck Blazer were able to consolidate powerful voting blocs from countries that were otherwise insignificant in the world of competitive soccer. By funneling FIFA patronage money to these national clubs (under the banner of "development grants"), a network of allies ensured their continued dominance in the FIFA elections. Of course, this type of corruption comes as no surprise to readers of "The Dictator's Handbook." When a leader is only dependent on a small number of poor (easily bribable) and interchangeable cronies, conditions are perfect for corruption and payoffs. Sepp Blatter played this nearly perfectly and was able to maintain plausible deniability for decades by relying on secret deals and oral agreements. This eventually came back to bite him, but only after rising jealousies from the spurned (and inadequately paid off) European football clubs forced a thorough investigation of FIFA's finances. As I was reading Conn's convoluted prose, I couldn't help but think of two other books that do a much better job of addressing these same mechanics, but in different contexts. "Treasure Islands" shows how hidden pools of money can eliminate accountability and pervert governance. And Caro's classic "The Power Broker" illustrates how through competence and ruthlessness, a single man can build up a pool of dark money and use it to preside over a vast and powerful network of corrupt officials.

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