FIFA: What’s the deal with world football’s governing body?

CNN  — 

Football is back in the headlines – but for all the wrong reasons.

Yes, that’s right, FIFA, the organization responsible for running the game, is in a sticky situation just two days before its own presidential election.

On Wednesday, seven FIFA officials were arrested in Zurich, Switzerland, on charges of racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies involving millions of dollars.

One of those arrested was FIFA vice-president Jeffrey Webb.

In total, the FBI says that nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives have been charged.

Meanwhile, a separate investigation led by the Swiss authorities into how the 2018 and 2022 World Cup were awarded has also started.

FIFA has already stated that Russia, hosts in 2018 and Qatar, which will hold the 2022 event, will keep hold of their respective roles.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter is not under investigation and is set to contest the presidential election against Jordan’s Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein.

But why should you care? Here’s our quick handy guide with everything you need to know.

What is FIFA?

FIFA, or Federation Internationale de Football Association, as it’s known in French, is the governing body of world soccer and has been since its formation in Parios on May 21 1904.

There are 209 members, which is more than there are in the United Nations, which has 193.

FIFA is responsible for running and promoting the game around the globe with its premier competition, the World Cup, held every four years.

Under Blatter the organization has also invested money in developing grassroots football – working with soccer federations across the world to build pitches and improve facilities.

FIFA also runs a number of other tournaments including the Women’s World Cup, tournaments for both men and women at different age groups and rules on various disputes within the game, for example, the world governing body introduced goal-line technology at the 2014 World Cup.

405945 06: Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) President Sepp Blatter speaks with FIFA members after winning a second four-year term as FIFA president during the 53rd Ordinary FIFA Congress at the Hilton May 29, 2002 in Seoul, South Korea. Blatter received 139 votes to beat African soccer chief Issa Hayatou who received 56 votes. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
FIFA: Sepp Blatter 'not involved' in allegations
03:21 - Source: CNN AP

Who’s in charge?

The man in charge is Blatter – a 79-year-old Swiss who is aiming for his fifth successive term in office if he wins Friday’s presidential election.

Blatter has been at the top of world football for the past 17-years, but his image has been tarnished by the organization’s constant ability to attract negative headlines.

Elected in 1998, Blatter heads the executive committee, which consists of eight vice-presidents and 15 members, all of whom are appointed by associations and confederations.

He has also managed to court controversy with some of his remarks, such as claiming female footballers should wear shorter shorts.

On Sunday, Blatter jokingly likened his stickability at FIFA to the resilience of a mountain goat.

Here are a few more of his famous gaffes in a gallery – click away.

Why does FIFA get such bad press?

FIFA’s image has been battered and bruised – particularly over the last five years – by a series of scandals and repeated allegations of corruption.

While it has always denied any wrongdoing, it’s secretive nature has ensured suspicions of wrongdoing just won’t go away, notably over the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

In December 2014, FIFA’s ethics committee said it was finishing its investigation into alleged corruption surrounding the award of those two tournaments to Russia and Qatar.

According to the committee, the investigation found no corruption and claimed there was no reason to reopen the bidding process, despite former New York prosecutor, Michael Garcia, the man hired by FIFA to conduct an internal probe, criticized the organization over its findings.

And it appears the FBI could be like a dog with a bone with its own investigation.

The fallout of the 2010 decision to award Russia and Qatar the next two World Cups continues to reverberate around FIFA.

In 2011, the organization gave Mohamed bin Hammam, a Qatari member of its top governing body, a lifelong ban for ethics violations.

In the latest developments on Wednesday, Swiss authorities stated that they have opened a separate criminal investigation into FIFA’s operations pertaining to the 2018 and 2022 bids.

The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland said it is looking into criminal mismanagement and money laundering.

Check out the gallery below to find out more about some of the men who have been charged.

What happens now?

That’s the question everyone is asking.

First of all will Friday’s presidential election still take place?

According to Stewart Regan, head of the Scottish Football Association, it could yet be delayed.

FIFA has already said that neither Russia nor Qatar will be stripped of their World Cups.

And on the presidential contest, FIFA spokesman Walter De Gregorio told a press conference that: “The president (Sepp Blatter) is not involved, how can you say he has to step down? He is the president, if he is re-elected then he is the president for the next four years.”

Of the investigations, De Gregorio added: “This is good for FIFA. It hurts, it is not easy, but it confirms we are on the right track.”

All eyes will now be on the U.S. investigation and the the progress it makes following the arrests.

Whatever happens, this is one story that’s likely to have many more chapters written.

Read the report

Read: U.S. arrests officials; Switzerland opens separate probe

Read: Why women weren’t good enough for World Cup report