The definitive, shocking account of the FIFA scandal—the biggest corruption case of recent years—involving dozens of countries and implicating nearly every aspect of the world’s most popular sport, soccer, including the World Cup is “an engrossing and jaw-dropping tale of international intrigue…A riveting book” (The New York Times).
The FIFA case began small, boosted by an IRS agent’s review of an American soccer official’s tax returns. But that humble investigation eventually led to a huge worldwide corruption scandal that crossed continents and reached the highest levels of the soccer’s world governing body in Switzerland.
“The meeting of American investigative reporting and real-life cop show” (The Financial Times), Ken Bensinger’s Red Card explores the case, and the personalities behind it, in vivid detail. There’s Chuck Blazer, a high-living soccer dad who ascended to the highest ranks of the sport while creaming millions from its coffers; Jack Warner, a Trinidadian soccer official whose lust for power was matched only by his boundless greed; and the sport’s most powerful man, FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who held on to his position at any cost even as soccer rotted from the inside out.
Remarkably, this corruption existed for decades before American law enforcement officials began to secretly dig, finally revealing that nearly every aspect of the planet’s favorite sport was corrupted by bribes, kickbacks, fraud, and money laundering. Not even the World Cup, the most-watched sporting event in history, was safe from the thick web of corruption, as powerful FIFA officials extracted their bribes at every turn. “A gripping white-collar crime thriller that, in its scope and human drama, ranks with some of the best investigative business books of the past thirty years” (The Wall Street Journal), Red Card goes beyond the headlines to bring the real story to light.
In his intense first book, investigative journalist Bensinger explores the U.S. Department of Justice's investigation into corruption at the highest levels of international soccer. The story begins with a 2011 Google alert received by Steve Berryman, an Internal Revenue Service special agent and zealous soccer fan, about high-ranking FIFA official Chuck Blazer an American whose financial records were under examination by the FBI. With that tip, Berryman teamed with FBI agents to go after Blazer, who, facing significant federal charges, eventually became the government's most helpful cooperator in the investigation. Bensinger colorfully details the global pursuit of Blazer's cronies that climaxed in May 2015, when several FIFA officials were arrested for allegedly accepting hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to influence the selection of host countries for the World Cup. Among those arrested were Jack Warner, a cocky yet quiet Trinidadian who was president of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football, and his successor, Jeffrey Webb, a Caymanian with five homes in the U.S. and aspirations of becoming president of FIFA. A total of 18 people were indicted, and the fallout from the scandal included the resignation of FIFA's longtime president, Sepp Blatter. With the flair of a novelist, Bensinger meticulously chronicles the magnitude of corruption that permeates the world's most popular sport.