The FIFA Scandal and the Distorted Influence of Small States
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the international body that governs soccer, became engulfed in a massive corruption scandal in 2015. Yet despite its global audience, financial influence, and cultural importance, the sport's governance has received little attention in political science or international studies. This article showcases how FIFA represents an important site for analyzing global governance by demonstrating how the contemporary scandal is primarily an outcome of the idiosyncratic structures of the organization itself, with a particular pattern of incentives generated for a set of actors commonly overlooked in the literature. It explains how soccer bureaucrats from smaller countries—Switzerland, Qatar, and Trinidad and Tobago are deployed as illustrations—have regularly outmaneuvered their larger and more conventionally powerful counterparts. Smallness does not, therefore, imply a lack of power within global governance: it is rather mediated by context and novel forms of agency.