Failed Economics of FIFA

I have grown up looking up to FIFA as the shining light within the soccer world. They were able to take advantage of the rise of globalization and create a soccer culture consistent throughout the world. Even though many of these nations were extremely poor, they were still able to field a team and challenge some of the superpower soccer countries. The amazing thing about FIFA is that when the world cup is be hosted by a nation like South Africa it places the country on the world map. It is a time for the nation to demonstrate its national pride and hospitality. This results in the international media constantly ridiculing it. This can be extremely beneficial for a place like South Africa, where they were able to show the world that they had take important steps since the ending of apartheid, but it can also demonstrate the reality of what FIFA is promoting. Qatar was chosen to be the host of the 2022 and was immediately questioned for the decision. How could such a small country that had little to no history of playing soccer earn the biggest sporting event in the world?

I naturally know a lot about the positive aspects of FIFA because I have played soccer since I was a child. But until recently I didn’t realize how embedded corruption was within the organization. Since the uncovering of the extensive bribery campaign, I have learned more about the dark side of the organization. I am going to attempt to analyze whether the positive impact of FIFA on developing nations outweighs the consequences of working with FIFA. One report that has recently been released is about the working conditions in Qatar. It talks about the “slave” labor that is used to build the extremely decadent stadiums and practice facilities. Many of these buildings are being constructed solely for the use in the World Cup and may be never used again. I have found multiple articles about the economic impact of FIFA and treatment of workers. I will compare FIFA using the utilitarian perspective to decide whether the consequences justify the actions. Even though FIFA may use bribes and corruption to decide on a country to host the games, can this corruption result in a greater prosperity for smaller developing nations? This will be the major question that I will try to answer. Furthermore, using the deontological perspective, I will consider the rights and duties of FIFA to regulate the countries chosen to host the World Cup. I think that if I use these two schools of ethics then I will be able to gain a better understanding of the organization.

One of my biggest worries is that my paper may overlap with Frank Henry’s. I didn’t realize that he was going to be writing about FIFA until he posted it while I was writing this proposal. After reading his proposal it seems like he will be focusing more on the ethics of FIFA and moral leadership within the organization. I think my paper will be talking more about the economics of FIFA and whether they are helping or hurting the developing countries they work with. I hope this will be able to differentiate out papers because my will be more economics based while his is ethics based. Also, I am having trouble finding sources that look into the impact of FIFA on developing countries that haven’t hosted a World Cup. Naturally, the media outlets and thesis papers research the impact on hosting nations while disregarding the effect on other nations. I think this would be really interesting because the World Cup only occurs every four years. This means that very few nations are affected while everyday operations are taking place in the developing nations right now. FIFA does write about how they help smaller nations with direct investments and government policy, but I don’t think I can use them as a reliable source. I want to find an independent or at least a group not funded by FIFA that researches this topic. I used JSTOR, ProQuest, and Google Scholar, but so far I have found nothing. Finally, I am considering whether to look at the sustainability of the FIFA’s operations in host nations, but I am worried that this may spread me too thin. My focus on the economics seems to be endless and I expect it to give me enough sources, but I want to make sure I differentiate myself from Frank. Do not be afraid to suggest that I research another topic and I look forward to your criticism and remarks.



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7 thoughts on “Failed Economics of FIFA

  1. Hey Peter, I think that you will be looking at a different topic than Frank Henry even though it is about the same company. In fact, I believe that by looking at the economics side of the story you are looking at the most important side of it, since the whole purpose of FIFA is to create a soccer community around the world and to impact the world in the best possible way through soccer.
    Looking at your sources, which I think go hand in hand with your thesis, I am glad to note that you are going to pay attention to both the short term and the long term economic impact of the world cups. However, and this is obviously totally up to you, if you realize that you cannot find enough information about the economics in the world cups, you could also analyze the impact that FIFA is having in countries such as China and the US as well, in which soccer is exponentially developing year after year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think this is a really cool topic that touches on a contemporary issue that has been widely covered in the media. I don’t think your paper will overlap with Frank’s enough to deter you from writing on this subject. I think your approach from an economic perspective will be a interesting way to dig into FIFA. Finding unbiased sources will be key to this paper because one’s view of FIFA is probably easily skewed depending on what country you live in, what team you support etc. I think you should have no problem finding substantial debate regarding this issue since it has been such a hot button issue in the media.


  3. I see two big things to tackle here:

    1) How you measure “Good.” Consequentialism is tricky to ever get right in that you don’t know how far to measure and where to stop even when you are just using monetary calculus, and infinitely more so where you start trying to consider the emotional, physical, environmental and other “goods.” I think you have an advantage in that you are taking an economic viewpoint, and maybe you plan to objectively compare numbers – that could be the simplest and most direct solution but I would put some kind of caveat about non-monetary “good” as well if you go that route.

    2) Mixing two ethical theories with a big, macro topic like the economic of this might need a big paper. There is so much that goes into all of this, and you may find yourself not able to dig deep enough since you have to lightly touch on many different topics. So, there might be some value in looking at just one perspective from an ethics article and evaluating a few of the many different aspects of FIFA (Who makes the decisions, are they using these ethics, why do we encourage it, what is its motivation, etc.)

    Interesting topic.


  4. “I have grown up looking up to FIFA as the shining light within the soccer world.”

    REALLY? Man, you drank the kool-aid. They didn’t make soccer culture, they mooched off of it.


  5. You can both do FIFA. That is fine. Plus, some of my past students did this for paepr 2 or white paper. Look up their sources too. Share resources while you write different papers.

    DOn’t try and mix deontology and consequentialism. I think the question of “is it wroth it” is great. You can still do good writing about how we measure benefits and about how we measure consequences. Some of the better consequentialism work addresses who benefits. This overlaps with deontology or justice some, and that is fine. But you can keep it in the general framework of consequentialism.

    By the way, I suspect that it is NOT worth it to host countries of Mundial. But by focusing on non-host countries, you have an interesting angle. You may want to focus on one region as there may be huge differences in each region. And, FIFA is itself an assocation of associations (regional) of associations (national).


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