How Much Is FIFA Like The Godfather? ESPN And ABC Count The Ways

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Josh Margolin with ABC News is reporting today that Sepp Blatter is a target of the federal investigation unveiled last week, which included the indictment of 14 international soccer leaders and businessmen. Those charges included some old-school classics familiar to anyone to who loves a good organized-crime yarn: racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering. But could it be that FIFA really is just a few red sauces and handguns removed from operating like America’s infamous Mafia? Margolin and ESPN’s Bob Ley connected a few of the dots today.


The full video is above from when Margolin called in to ESPN’s live coverage, and it’s worth watching for his insight into how the case was built. Here are a few highlights. First, when Ley asked Margolin if there was a mob- or organized-crime-style structure involved. Here’s Margolin’s response:

Well, it certainly looks that way. Our sources are reminding us that this is a case that was investigated and put together by the New York FBI and let’s not forget who the New York FBI is. This is the agency, the group in the FBI, that essentially broke the back of the mafia and they did it through the use of things like racketeering cases and extortion and shakedowns. And this is in many ways, we are being told, this should be read like that.

You, as the FBI and the prosecutors, you get a couple of people to cooperate or start narrating really the story of the scheme or the scam. And let’s think back to some of the great movies that we’ve all watched like Goodfellas or something. You get a cooperator and that’s what happens. People start rolling over on other people and they get pressured and they give evidence.


Later in the conversation, Margolin talks about how this fits within “the bread and butter, so to speak, of the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys” in New York City.

... they approached this case in a classic step by step by step. They got some cooperators. They got some information. They indicted some more people. And now they believe that they have gotten themselves deeply within the organization.

Deeply within the organization! Over on ABC’s website, their report talks more about people flipping to save themselves.

“Now that people are going to want to save themselves, there’s probably a race to see who will flip on [Blatter] first,” one source said, explaining how the feds typically try to get people to inform on their superiors.

“We may not be able to collapse the whole organization but maybe you don’t need to,” one of the sources said.


Even before Margolin’s appearance, though, Ley was moving in The Commission’s direction. Before tossing to Gabriele Marcotti, he quoted that other Mafia movie, The Godfather.


Ley also made sure to hit up a more modern classic. Most days, I’d say reaching for a quote from The Wire is too obvious; today, it’s more like hitting for the organized-crime-quote cycle.


In all, probably best to close with some words from a real mobster (or rather one of their accountants), who gets credit for giving us this: “Nothing personal, it’s just business.”