By David D. Dodge
Just when many sports observers thought the worst of the corruption scandals were behind the beleaguered Federation Internationale de Football (FIFA), a report surfaced of a World Cup referee caught on camera accepting $600 from an undercover journalist. Sports blogger, Lauren Theisen, reported on June 7 on footage from a documentary on corruption in African soccer, shared exclusively with the BBC. The footage showed World Cup assistant referee Adel Range Marwa accepting the cash gift from an undercover journalist who was posing as a Ghanian soccer official. Marwa, the only referee set to work in the World Cup from Kenya, promptly resigned his position.
While the footage from the documentary doesn’t actually show the referee accepting the cash in exchange for assurances that he’d manipulate the games he was to work, FIFA rules prohibit soccer referees from accepting gifts or other benefits. Posing as a soccer representative from the Ghanian Football Association (FA), the journalist, Anas Aremeyan Anas, gave the money to Marwa in a hotel room during the games of the African Cup of Nations.
But Marwa’s acceptance of the gift wasn’t the only scandal filmed by the undercover journalist whose motto is “name, shame, and jail.” Prior to the Marwa incident, Anas had filmed more than 100 referees and other officials taking money, many from Ghana, including the Ghanian FA president who accepted a $65,000 bribe from a fake sponsor. The Ghanian government has subsequently announced its plans to dissolve the FA “until a new body is formed.”
Ironically, Marwa, the only referee caught by Anas who was to officiate in the World Cup could have earned nearly $25,000 working the games in Russia. Instead, he accepted the gift of $600 while losing his reputation and probably his officiating career as well.
While most of the corruption at FIFA has involved those at or near the top of the various soccer associations, corruption has now reached deep into the officiating ranks in Africa, and nearly into the World Cup itself.