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Red Card: FIFA and the Fall of the Most Powerful Men in Sports

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  483 ratings  ·  58 reviews
The story of FIFA's fall from grace has it all: power, betrayal, revenge, sports stars, hustlers, corruption, sex and phenomenal quantities of money, all set against exotic locales stretching from Caribbean beaches to the formal staterooms of the Kremlin and the sun-blasted streets of Doha, Qatar.

In Red Card, investigative journalist Ken Bensinger takes a journey to FIFA's
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published June 14th 2018 by Profile Books
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4.20  · 
Rating details
 ·  483 ratings  ·  58 reviews

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Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book about the investigation and eventual downfall of international soccer's governing body read more like a political and financial thriller than a non-fiction sports book. That isn't to say that I didn't like it - but it was certainly different, in a good way, than what I expected. Ken Bensinger's meticulous attention to detail and his writing style made this book one to enjoy, despite the intense detail and numerous characters. It certainly raised my eyebrows on more than one occ ...more
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bensinger’s Red Card has everything you could want in a book about scandal: moneyed power brokers who take from poor and give to the rich, strong lawmen and women who strive to right the wrongs, and a satisfying take-down in the end. This book provides a strong vote of confidence for the FBI and law enforcement everywhere. It is an excellent piece of journalism. I also have to note that I have never played a official game of soccer in my life, no youth leagues, no intramurals, no co-ed rec leagu ...more
Maria Espadinha
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Money Makes the ⚽ Go Round

Although I would never include soccer in my list of interests, when it takes to human behavior, I’m all eyes and ears. Therefore, my decision to give this book a try!
Humans are strange complex creatures who can give their best at worst, and mutatis mutandis, their worst at best!
Extreme real life situations, usually turn into quite enjoyable books, always showing a bit (a lot?!) more about human potential.
In this particular case, money is involved as a catalyst of greed,
Athan Tolis
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, law
To stay alive, small business often needs to operate outside the edges of what’s legal. And international football used to be small business. So, with the exception of the odd British gentleman here or there, international football used to be run by small time crooks.

And then, suddenly, sponsors arrived, gagging to spend money. The money was lavished on the same small-time crooks, who did not even think of ever changing their ways. Coca Cola and Adidas are credited with starting this dance and
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, sport
This book makes me very angry. I knew FIFA was rotten to the core, but until now, I was unaware of how corrupt it was. This book offers tremendous detail and how the good guys worked.
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Thanks to Netgalley and Simon and Schuster for the ARC of this non-fiction title. This book, outlining the investigation into professional soccer corruption, was fascinating. It wasn’t hard to separate the good guys from the bad guys here and I found myself really rooting for the US law enforcement members that were tasked with unraveling a highly complex international operation. Score one for the good guys. I know I won’t be able to see any World Cup games this year without thinking about this ...more
Luis Reséndiz
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canasta-básica
un libro padrísimo para leerse antes del mundial: una investigación profunda, filosa como navaja de afeitar, que abre en dos la historia de corrupción al interior de la fifa y la expone en toda su crudeza: millones de dólares, pagos bajo el agua, arreglos turbios, dinero desviado, cuentas en paraísos fiscales, fiestas obscenas y todo el paquete. un reportaje extenso y potente que mucho tiene de thrilleresco.
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Complicated story clearly written. Somewhat of a cross (pun intended) between Serpico and The Big Short. I am still eager for the World Cup, despite the absence of the U.S. and the existence of this book. Ultimately a downer as corruption unlikely to cease. FIFA would take a giant step forward by pulling 2022 Cup from Qatar, as the only logical reason for it being played there is the bribes.
Erin Schaick
This was a truly fascinating story and the author did a great job of laying out context and the levels of corruption in many countries and organizations. I’m giving it 3 stars because I listened to this via audiobook and there were simply too many characters and plot lines to keep track of this way. I’d definitely recommend reading this one in print!
Casey Gattshall
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very detailed and thorough review of the events leading up to the indictment of several of FIFA’s top officials. The book reads like a thriller and I couldn’t stop turning the pages once I got started. A must read for any soccer fan.
Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

“The story of modern soccer was really about the emergence of a new kind of business, one that turned out to have corruption baked into it nearly from the moment it was born.”

This book proves what many people throughout the world have known for a long time, that the people in charge of FIFA and it’s various other associated brands throughout the planet, have been dictated by a group of obnoxious, cheating, liars who have stolen hundreds of millions of dollars from football, money that could have
Erik Moloney
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The definitive, shocking account of the FIFA scandal—the biggest international corruption case of recent years, spearheaded by US investigators, involving dozens of countries, and implicating nearly every aspect of the world’s most popular sport, soccer, including its biggest event, the World Cup.

The FIFA case began small, boosted by an IRS agent’s review of an American soccer official’s tax returns. But that humble investigation eventually led to a huge worldwide corruption scandal that crossed
Aug 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, sports
From the idea of an IRS agent in California looking into and American soccer official to a huge investigation, guilty pleas and trials in 2017 this look into corruption in FIFA was fascinating. The sheer amount of bribe taking was staggering and the egos and personalities involved were larger than life. Like Chuck Blazer who turned his involvement in soccer from soccer dad to multimillions from kickbacks to Jack Webb CONCACAF president elected to clean up the sport who immediately began taking b ...more
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh my, I just don't believe it. Like, I just can't believe it. Holy scandal, like an episode of a tv show or movie, but no, this was real life. It is simply astonishing that all this corruption happened involving so many people, from so many countries, from so many organizations, for so many years. OMG! Wow, really, like wow. I don't care of you like soccer or not, this book & the story being told is incredible. You can't help but be so intrigued by how it all unfolds. But the other thing is ...more
Jon Kaleugher
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you've ever wondered what has happened to soccer since those arrests (or, if, like my soccer unaware friends didn't even know this was a thing) then look no further (and honestly, if you do you won't find anything else on the subject in print). Told in a concise reporters voice, with a corporate tree and a cast of characters, this book sets off on a journey that will cause you to miss social engagements for a few days. It's engaging and riveting and basically a good ole-fashion-page-turning-w ...more
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Here is a good story rushed out to press a little too quickly in order to cash in on the buzz around the 2018 World Cup.

Massive corruption in the ranks of FIFA, high and low, is now well documented thanks to the perseverance of the US Internal Revenue Service, the FBI, and regional Justice Department prosecutors.

Not many people went to jail fully three years after the initial indictments, and hundreds of millions of contraband funds are stuck in litigation in New York courtrooms and the US Treas
I confess that international football (or soccer here in the US) is not a sport that I follow, but this fascinating exposé has enough twists and turns to satisfy my interest in true crime and surely it's a no brainer for anyone who does follow this big-money sport. It all started when an IRS agent followed up on discrepancies in the tax return of an American affiliated with FIFA (the Fédération Internationale de Football Association). Years of undercover work later, with both the IRS and the FBI ...more
An informative piece of investigative journalism that looks at the largest sports scandal in history. This book gave all the information on how the FBI took down FIFA. It was so interesting, and a little upsetting, to read about the bribes involved within FIFA's top execs and is the main reason why the most recent world cup was held in Russia and the next world cup is in Qatar. It was truly fascinating. Being a big soccer fan, it was a little upsetting though to read about these men, who honestl ...more
Aug 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author's annoying habit of gratuitously and unnecessarily tossing in physical descriptions of every person he mentions was aggravating to say the least A few of the many examples of what I mean: On page 184 "Hawilla, bald with soft chin, wire rim glasses, and big dark eyes, had been sound asleep..." On page 244 "Bald and stocky, with glasses and a salt-and-pepper beard, Paez had..." On page 283 "With a bald, bulging head, and thick black brows, he began showing off his linguistic dexterity.. ...more
Mathieu Coquelet Ruiz
Brilliantly written, this description of the US authorities' investigation into FIFA (and regional football federations) reads like a thriller. You follow the investigation like youd follow an investigation from Hercule Poirot, with information analysed carefully, evidence used intelligently and suspects arrested by surprise. It is also a well deserved praise for investigators that made huge commitments and sacrifices to get to the bottom of this scandal. FIFA is plagued with corruption, Gianni ...more
Ken Megale
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a breezy informative overview of a bunch of folks who had the capacity to make remarkable, honorable differences in international sport and drive the world...literally...the "world" of magnificent untold heights of ethics and international they say..."some men die in ashes...some die in flames...and some men die playing silly little games"! The games these men played were, alas, small in the overall amounts of money involved, yet, to every single soccer f ...more
Daniel Palevski
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A detailed and at times very entertaining account of the crimes and corruption that ultimately led to the FIFA trials of 2017 in New York.

While exposing a dark underbelly of the international soccer association, Bensinger tells the tale of committed soccer fans, as well as IRS and FBI agents who work tirelessly to expose the hundreds of millions of dollars soccer association kingpins managed to skim form the system and keep from the rightful heirs of the soccer dynasty.

Hilarious at times, it’s h
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Certainly fact based. Engagingly written. Two minor complaints. 1. Skips back and forth chronologically, necessary for the story, but it's not always clear when something is taking place. 2. The incessant use of 'reached out' when 'contacted' is more concise and clearer. I hate this expression, when someone writes 'he reached out to X and was told...' It only makes sense in 'he reached out to X but the call was never returned.' The expression is ubiquitous these days and is generally inappropria ...more
Aug 31, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: football
A 368-paged long outline about corruption in the world of FIFA. Nothing I enjoyed really. Lacking consistently and direction. Based on second hand sources and literature. It starts of somewhat an ongoing event and puts us directly in the middle of something. To many persons are processed in the book and it jumps a bit back and forward. A difficult read and took some time to process each chapter.

I would rather have seen it something as a blow-by-blow account of the persons, backgrounds, current e
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
I liked the first 75 pages and worked through the next 75, but then bailed. The book became too much a nest of quacking ducks, with people on the page for a minute and then vanishing. I honestly don't get all the glowing reviews. Bribes in a hotel room over TV rights? That's not a recipe for suspense. I kept waiting for the big turn, but it never seemed to arrive. Maybe it would have been better if Bensinger concentrated on one person, like Chuck Blazer. Maybe I'm just wrong about this one.
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a great telling of the detailed and multi-year, multi-country investigation into corruption at FIFA. If you're interested in soccer, or interested in reading about meticulous criminal investigations, you'll like this book. I've heard it said that only the US would really be able to take down FIFA, b/c we're just not so great at soccer, but we're good at RICO investigations, and this book tells that tale. And the author does a good job of making it about the damage done to the game, and ...more
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, sports
You do not have to be a soccer fan to enjoy this book. An exceptionally clear and engaging narration of a complicated investigation into global soccer corruption and the origins of the US justice system's involvement in this case. The book was clearly well-researched and offered interesting in-depth perspectives from the law enforcement agents and the targets of this investigation into bribery and corruption of the game of soccer around the world.
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was initially skeptical that a complicated story about white collar crime spread out all over the globe could be tamed and made into a cohesive and compelling story. It can. Bensinger manages to keep all the balls up in the air. And, despite all the names and never ending bribes (and there are still lots of bribes being paid), football still manages to be incredibly popular.

And the sport is even more popular in the country that tried to bring down a generation of its leadership.
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This reads like a legal thriller, right down to the vivid cast of characters. The extent of FIFA's corruption is shocking. It is almost hard to believe the greed of so many people in the soccer world. This is exhaustively researched, and the author does a great job of not getting too bogged down in details, while still explaining how the U.S. tracked down those responsible in this massive international case.
Vinay V
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-shelf-read
"Engaging & Thrilling. Your view of how institutionally corruption can be structured will be more clearer as you read this. Now i have my own opinions in how some of the titanic sporting events get organized & people involved in them.
Looking at Jack Warner Photo, it's the type of face you can relate to unkind sharks i have seen in other walks of life, hate to see these people always
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“The people’s game had become the property of selfish men pretending to be some species of public servant, while hiding countless millions of dollars in far-flung corners of the world.” 1 likes
“The event, which cost CONCACAF roughly $3 million, could, quite possibly, have been carried off with a slightly more modest touch.” 0 likes
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