SPORTS & RECREATION

Red Card: How the U.S. Blew the Whistle on the World's Biggest Sports Scandal

S. & S. Jun. 2018. 368p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781501133909. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781501133923. SPORTS
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Veteran journalist Bensinger's cinematic debut untangles the web of corruption surrounding FIFA (the Fédération Internationale de Football Association). The narrative begins in California with the investigation of an American soccer official's tax returns and globetrots to all six continental branches of FIFA to reveal bribes, fraud, kickbacks, and money laundering up and down the organizational ladder, much of it involving broadcasting and marketing rights. Bensinger's ability to peel away the complex layers of these international schemes illustrates the absurdity owing to the extent and ubiquity of corruption as personal self-interests take over at every level. There is admittedly (even for a soccer fan) an acclimatization curve given the sheer expanse of the case and cast of characters, which are handily detailed. Bensinger finds a worthy guide in an IRS special agent to lead readers through the work. Hardly a corner of the soccer world feels untouched; readers get the sense it's both too big to fail yet also too big not to.
VERDICT Not solely for soccer fans but also those curious about organized crime—not least for the references to Eliot Ness and his team of Untouchables—and international intrigue.

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