THE BLOG

Where's the Ref? FIFA -- A Sports Body Playing Without Rules

05/28/2015 04:35 pm ET | Updated May 28, 2016

Football, or soccer as it is known, is a game of two halves. It's a game with rules and a referee. FIFA, the governing body for football, follows neither the rule of law or has the oversight of a referee.

Hours after dawn raids rounded up seven FIFA officials in Zurich, the U.S. Attorney General released a statement pointing to "racketeering conspiracy and corruption" relating to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.

This is an historic moment for workers enslaved in Qatar and workers in Russia who were at risk of having their rights suspended and prison labour employed on world cup projects.

They may just see a glimmer of hope in the justice systems of the U.S. and Switzerland.

The morning of the arrests in Zurich, Jaimie Fuller, the founder of FIFA Official Non-Sponsor and CEO of SKINS, and I distributed a spoof newspaper to FIFA Congress delegates and commuters.

It painted a picture of the headlines that a FIFA free of corruption would be proud of.

Blatter Discussed Re-running World Cup Votes for 2018 and 2022
FIFA Partners Make Shock Threat to Quit "Unless There is Radical Reform"
United Nations Intervene to Make FIFA Finances ''Transparent''

Meanwhile, a few streets away at Zurich's most exclusive hotel Baur Au Lac, a white sheet was held up to obscure a street view of FIFA officials being rousted from their hotel beds and escorted into a police vehicle.

The unfolding drama was left to FIFA communications chief Walter de Gregorio to explain in a press conference that rivaled an episode of Veep. Walter's soundbites of spin painted FIFA as the damaged party and Blatter as relaxed.

Tragically the subject was not fictional, though the claim that a CEO who presided over the alleged "widespread and systemic corruption" would not stand down does seem to fit the bill.

Surely sponsors like Coke, Adidas, McDonalds and Visa will demand new leadership and serious reform or risk their own reputations with a consumer backlash that is well deserved.

Twitter feeds spark with the latest spoof of a treasured brands logos tainted with slave labor in Qatar. Marketers will find it hard to argue that any publicity is good publicity.

FIFA's partners and sponsors need to live up to their corporate values. Now is the time to find your moral compass and hold FIFA -- who you contribute so much financially to account.

While the arrests of FIFA officials offer some hope of justice, the issues remain the same with workers enslaved in Qatar, the threats to rights and the use of prison labor in Russia, the conspiracy of silence of sponsors and companies constructing infrastructure or providing services for FIFA world cups.

With the Qatar bid for the 2022 World Cup coming under scrutiny of Swiss authorities, imagine what the Qatar world cup video would have looked like if it had told the truth. The truth now exposed to the world of 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and workers under conditions of modern day slavery.

On Friday, 209 FIFA officials will cast a vote for a president. They could choose to vote against corruption, against workers' rights abuses in Qatar. They could vote for a new FIFA.

It's time for FIFA -- time for reform and time to stand up and say there can be no World Cup in Qatar without workers' rights.