Across Western Europe, FIFA still suspected of corruption

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
November 18, 2022, 3:02 PM GMT+0

Three quarters of Britons, Germans, Spaniards and French people believe there has probably been corruption in FIFA in recent years

In late 2010 FIFA made the controversial decision to award the 2018 World Cup tournament to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar. Allegations of corruption, vote-swapping and government interference followed the results, and concerns were raised about awarding such prestigious tournaments to countries with such poor human rights records.

Now, 12 years on, YouGov data shows that FIFA still suffers from widespread public suspicion that there has been wrongdoing in the management of the organisation.

Large majorities of the publics in the major western European nations believe there “probably has been corruption in the running of FIFA” in recent years. Three quarter of adults in Britain, France, Germany and Spain (75-78%) say so, as do 64% of Italians.

While Americans are less likely to give this answer (44%), this is almost entirely because they are more likely to say “don’t know” (47%) than their European counterparts (17-27%). In each country surveyed, only between 2% and 9% think there probably hasn’t been any corruption in the organisation’s running.

These figures are worse still for FIFA among football fans in each nation. A majority of American soccer fans (56%) as well as 76% of football fans in Italy and 83-90% in Britain, France, Germany and Spain think there probably has been corruption at FIFA in recent years.

In further bad news for FIFA, any efforts to change public perceptions in this regard over the last few years do not appear to have had much of an impact. The figures in Britain, France and Germany are unchanged from an identical YouGov survey in 2014, when 75-78% again felt there was probably corruption in the way FIFA was being run. (The survey was not conducted in Spain, Italy or the US in 2014)

How well is FIFA regarded?

While clear majorities in Europe suspect FIFA of having been corrupt at times, how far does this translate into viewing the organisation itself negatively?

FIFA is generally seen unfavourably across most of the largest Western European nations surveyed. Just 14% of Britons and 16% of Germans have a favourable view of the organisation, rising to 25% in France and 34% in Spain. In the first three of these countries, the number with an unfavourable view significantly outstrips the number with a positive opinion.

Italy is an exception, where people tend to have a positive (40%) rather than negative (31%) view of the body. In the US too there are more people with a favourable view (31%) than an unfavourable one (22%), although Americans are far less likely to have a view in the first place (47% say don’t know).

Among football fans specifically, perceptions of FIFA are more mixed. Fans in Britain and Germany continue to have an overwhelmingly negative view (62-64% have an unfavourable opinion compared to 28-29% with a favourable one).

Fans in France are divided 48% to 46%, while in Spain (52%) Italy (62%) and the US (74%) football fans have a positive opinion of the organisation.

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