U-M experts available to discuss FIFA corruption scandal


Swiss authorities arrested several top leaders of FIFA and announced they have opened criminal cases related to bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

University of Michigan professors Andrei Markovits and Stefan Szymanski are ready to discuss the history and possible repercussions of these events.

Markovits, who teaches comparative politics and German studies, co-authored the books “Offside: Soccer and American Exceptionalism” and “Gaming the World: How Sports Are Reshaping Global Politics and Culture.”

“This is totally embarrassing for Blatter and the powers that be at FIFA but quite meaningless in terms of actual consequences and real changes for one reason and one reason only: FIFA’s total monopoly over the game of association football since 1904,” he said. “Association Football is organized like the Catholic Church—with a pope who lords over all the rules and the game’s very existence. By doing so, it can excommunicate players, teams, leagues, countries. Only FIFA decides what Association Football really is.

“Were the European federations comprised in UEFA collectively to depart from FIFA and break away, and were they to play two tournaments in 2018 and 2022 apart from the World Cup, FIFA would be dead in the water. But the European federations are far from united to take such a major step.”

Markovits speaks English, French, Romanian, German and Hungarian.

Contact: 734-213-2226, [email protected]. Bio: myumi.ch/6jxzd


Stefan Szymanski is co-author of the blog Soccernomics and teaches sports management and economics.

“This is not as straight forward as it looks. There has been an appearance of bribery and corruption in FIFA for two decades and a lot of people feel that the time to reform of the organization is long overdue, as is the removal and punishment of those responsible for it,” he said, adding that, on the other hand, people do recognize that the organization has done good, too.

“FIFA is credited with the promotion and developing of football in Africa. It is not obvious when a U.S. court challenges a global sports organization on the grounds of corruption that the court of public opinion will side with the U.S. prosecutor. Much depends on the way this is received politically within FIFA.”

Contact Szymanski: 734-647-0950. Bio: myumi.ch/6O42x


Dae Hee Kwak, an assistant professor in the department of sport management in the School of Kinesiology, can talk about how the FIFA scandal will affect sponsorship.

“Major sponsors of the FIFA will not likely be impacted much by the scandal unless they were involved. I am sure sponsors and fans are not surprised by this scandal. Fans connect with sponsors because companies support the sport they love and care about. The scandal seems to have little influence on the performance on the playing field, which consumers care about most,” Kwak said.

“There is plenty of room for the sponsors to distance themselves from the organization. This will provide an opportunity for sponsors to communicate their partnerships based on the love and passion for the sport, and not on the corrupted governing body. This can show their genuine and sincere motives for engaging in sponsorship agreements with the FIFA.”

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Contact Kwak: 734-615-2884, [email protected]. Bio: myumi.ch/LPlB4