Structural Susceptibility to Corruption in FIFA: A Social Network Analysis

Sven Junghagen*, Mads Aurvandil

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Voting and decision making in FIFA was in 2011 shifted from the executive committee to the FIFA congress with the aim to reduce risk of corrupt vote mobilisation in these elections. A key rationale behind this decision was that it would not be financially feasible to bribe a majority of the congress. However, the network structure with asymmetries of influence can still be susceptible to corruption. The aim of this study is therefore to analyse the potential susceptibility of the organisation structure to a grand vote-rigging corruption scheme of FIFA World Cup host elections by means of a social network analysis approach. Based on a theoretical notion of vote mobilisation and inter-organisational networks, the organisational structure is evaluated to identify potential susceptibility to corruption. Two possible regimes were analysed, the centrally controlled and horizontally controlled, based on structural cohesion, embeddedness, network centralisation and correlation between actor centrality distributions. Findings do not suggest a susceptibility to a centrally controlled, but to a horizontally controlled vote-rigging corruption scheme. After the social network analysis was conducted, the holders of five out of eleven of the identified vulnerable positions in the network have been charged with allegations of corruption. This is a strong indicator of the validity of the method to assess the structural susceptibility to corruption.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Policy and Politics
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)655-677
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Published online: 18 Oct 2020.


  • Power
  • Corruption
  • Organisational structure
  • Interorganisational networks
  • Governance

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