The FIFA Family – A Love Story
Disbelief filled the room when FIFA decided that the 2022 World Cup would take place in Qatar. A diminutive desert state with no football tradition and unlimited spending accounts beat the mighty USA to win the vote. Five years later international football was thrown into chaos when the FBI raided FIFA’s favorite five-star hotel in Zürich to arrest members of the Executive Committee and charge them with massive corruption.
Mary Lynn Blanks witnessed the sports scandal of the decade from front row – and she brought her camera along to document it. The girlfriend of Chuck Blazer, a member of the ExCo, she was there for meetings with Vladimir Putin, Queen Elizabeth and others trying to win FIFA’s approval. Her account and photo archive provide a rare glimpse into the multi-billion-dollar industry of professional football, governed by twenty-four suits operating in the shadows and living in fantastic luxury.
Chuck Blazer was cartoon-like in his over-the-top lifestyle. Known among neighbors in Trump Tower for his daily workout – driving through Central Park on a mobility scooter with his pet parrot on the shoulder – Blazer rented an extra apartment for his two cats. One day, as he and Blanks left the building, they heard a voice behind them: May we have a word with you, Mr. Blazer? So began the FBI’s unraveling of FIFA, which centered around a key chain with a hidden microphone. “FIFA is like The Sopranos, but with worse people,“ says one interviewee. “So it’s the typical FBI technique.”
A mixture of romantic comedy and investigative journalism, this film reveals how Qatar got to host the World Cup, and how that brought down FIFA. It is a story of love and broken relationships, of cash-stuffed envelopes and dubious money transfers. Of suppressed investigations and geopolitical trade deals. All of it playing out in the corridors of football stadiums across the world, while we are all watching the game.