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FIFA and LEADERSHIP: Are Leaders Responsible For Scandals Under Their Watch?

In case you missed it, FIFA - the international governing body for soccer - got raided earlier this week in Europe:

"This week in Zurich (or late last night for those of us stateside), Swiss plainclothes police entered the Baur au Lac; the five-star hotel was the site of this week’s annual meeting of FIFA, soccer’s global governing body. The officers ascertained room numbers from the front desk, headed upstairs, and arrested six FIFA executives.

The Justice Department’s announcement primarily cites deals between FIFA, sports marketing groups, and broadcast corporations for the television rights to air the World Cup and other international soccer tournaments. Dating back to 1991, the indictment alleges, those involved conspired to receive bribes from marketing firms in exchange for exclusive television contracts—to the cumulative tune of more than $150 million. As Attorney General Loretta Lynch stated, “It spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.”

That begs a question - Are leaders responsible for scandals under their watch?  FIFA head Sepp Blatter, who was not arrested, claims the usual defense.  Here's his quote courtesy of the Washington Post:

"FIFA President Sepp Blatter offered up a tepid defense of his two-decade reign as head of world soccer’s governing body by deflecting all responsibility for what he called the “actions of a few” while addressing the ongoing FBI investigation into corruption at the organization.

“Many people hold me ultimately responsible,” Blatter said during the opening speech of the 65th FIFA Congress on Thursday. “We, or I, cannot monitor everyone all of the time. If people want to do wrong, they will also try to hide it.”

Sounds reasonable, right?  I'd agree with that sentiment, but sometimes the stuff going on is so blatant and dumb that you're a fool for not taking responsibility.  Need examples?  I've got a great one.  FIFA awarded the next 2022 World Cup to Qatar.  How likely is it that Qatar won that bid without kickbacks?  Working against the Qatar bid was the extreme temperature in the desert country. The World Cup always takes place during the European off-season in June and July. During this period the average daytime high in most of Qatar exceeds 50 °C (120 °F), the average daily low temperatures not dropping below 30 °C (86 °F).

So the World Cup gets awarded to a desert country where the average temp is 120 degrees in the months the tourney has to be played.  Probably some monkey business going on there, right?  

As a leader, you can't know it all.  But when your Financial Analyst who you know has 4 kids, alimony to pay and routinely asks for a pay raise shows up driving a Tesla, you're probably responsible for taking a look at the books via an audit to make sure everything's cool.

Somebody got harassed without your knowledge?  Probably can't hold you accountable for that as a leader, although you're responsible for the broader culture.

Kickbacks everywhere, especially via a culture that has long been rumored to mired with bribes?  You're responsible as a leader.

Everything in between?  Proceed with caution as a leader, because why you can't always be held accountable, you're ALWAYS responsible for it.


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