FIFA Fraud Goes to Court Before First World Cup With Legalized US Sports Betting

The United States Men’s National Team hold a 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualified banner after defeating Panama 5-1 at Exploria Stadium. Julio Aguilar/Getty Images/AFP

Following the postponement of the World Cup in 2021 due to the global pandemic, we’re now just months away from the tournament taking place as the schedule was moved from past events to avoid the blistering heat in Qatar. 

The competition gets underway on November 21, and the finals will arrive just under a month later, on December 18. Disputes encircling the Qatar World Cup have been ongoing since the location was gifted to The Pearl of the Gulf; however, malfeasance allegations have lingered before the vote. 

Numerous FIFA officials were implicated in a bribery scandal that gave Qatar the World Cup. Sepp Blatter, the former President of FIFA, highlighted that selecting Qatar for the World Cup was a “mistake” because of the severely high temperatures. 

FIFA: Taking Out the Trash 

Blatter and the former head of UEFA, Michel Platini, stood trial on June 8 in Bellinzona, Switzerland. No two men have been sat closer to the top of international soccer whilst being accused of deceiving the sport’s governing body. 

The Washington Post reported that Blatter signed off a counterfeit invoice worth 2 million Swiss francs to Platini. Blatter’s lawyers argue the payment was concerning Platini’s prior consultant work for Blatter. 

Blatter and Platini were both suspended from international soccer duties in 2015, and again in March 2021, the FIFA Ethics Committee sanctioned Blatter for engaging in conflicts of interest with Jerome Valcke. 

World Cup Suspicious Activity: Overall Integrity 

International soccer has long been under scrutiny for its match-fixing relations. Of course. The World Cup competition is a complex competition to achieve this, but international friendlies have been easy pickings for fraudsters within the sport. 

Sportradar – a data provider and integrity monitoring business – saw a rise in suspicious games in 2021 from their Universal Fraud Detection System. 

The Number One Sport Globally 

Although its popularity in the United States hasn’t levelled with the country’s grown sports, soccer is the number one watched (and wagered on) sport worldwide. 

Sportradar reported that soccer betting was responsible for 51% of the world’s handle. This year’s UEFA Champions League received 198 million Euros wagered per game, and the World Cup handle will undoubtedly surpass these figures. 

A First for US Sports Betting 

The Qatar World Cup 2022 will be the first of its kind for US sports bettors, as most areas in the country will have access to legalized sports betting

Many believe that legal and widespread sports wagering can assist the United States in bridging its gap with soccer, where the sport has consistently failed to garner the same popularity it has in every other country on the planet. 

As the 2026 World Cup arrives in North America with an expansion to 48 teams from 32, US sportsbooks will be engrossed with Qatar 2022 to sharpen their skills four years before the arrival of the world’s biggest sporting event on US soil. 

Five Years in Prison? 

Blatter and Platini’s trial is expected to have received its verdict by July 8. Blatter’s plummeting health conditions have reduced full days to half days, but if the two men are convicted, they’re each faced with five years in a Swiss penitentiary.