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FIFA Scandal Getting the Senate’s Attention Next Week

(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The soccer community’s attention will shift next week from the pitch in Vancouver to a hearing room in Washington, D.C.  

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., is following through on his plan to hold a hearing on FIFA, soccer’s scandal-rocked international governing authority, which is scheduled for July 15 at 2:30 p.m, CQ Roll Call has learned.  

“Soccer is by far the most popular sport in the world, and it is attracting a wider audience by the day in the United States,” Moran said in a statement. “Children across America and the globe look up to athletes as role models, and professional sports must be held to the highest standards. The recent revelations of bribery and mismanagement at FIFA should be of concern to us all.”  

Moran previously told CQ Roll Call that FIFA’s governance issues were brought to his attention by reports of human-rights abuses related to infrastructure construction in Qatar, the host country for the 2022 men’s World Cup.  

The headline witness is veteran freelance journalist Andrew Jennings. Jennings has been credited  in numerous media outlets for blowing the cover off the scandal within FIFA’s management that has now led to a number of senior officials being indicted in the United States.  

There are a trio of other witnesses for the hearing at Moran’s Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance and Data Security. The Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over sports programs, and a long history of engaging on the U.S. role in international competitions.  

Dan Flynn, the CEO and general counsel at the U.S. Soccer Federation is scheduled to testify, along with Michael Hershman of FIFA’s Independent Governance Committee and Sunjeev Bery, associate director of Amnesty International USA’s  Middle East and North Africa division.  

The human rights group issued a report in May on the working conditions in Qatar, particularly for migrant laborers.  

“The organization’s culture of corruption is turning a blind eye to significant human rights violations and the tragic loss of lives. This hearing on the recent FIFA scandals will begin the discussion about our country’s own participation in the organization, ways the United States and our allies can work to reform FIFA, and how we can restore integrity to the game so many Americans and citizens of the world enjoy,” Moran said Wednesday.  

Those might not be the only issues addressed.  

The subcommittee’s ranking member, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., has had his own lines of question for international soccer, just last month asking questions of the U.S. Soccer Federation about the treatment of U.S. women’s team star Hope Solo after reporting about domestic violence charges against the goaltender.  

“Domestic violence and family violence are an horrific scourge that happens behind closed doors every day in this country. Regardless of whether the violence is a man striking a woman, a woman striking a man, or same-sex violence, it is unacceptable,” Blumenthal wrote in a June 11 letter to the U.S. Soccer Federation. “Domestic violence is intolerable particularly for an athlete representing the United States of America on the global stage.”

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