TIME World Cup

How the FIFA Scandal Trumped the Women’s World Cup

Will the action be a distraction from scandal?

The women’s World Cup starts on Saturday. This might have slipped your mind. With the NBA Finals and the Triple Crown chase and the French Open and baseball all going on, your cluttered sports brain might—quite understandably—be focused on just one soccer story right now: the one involving surprise arrests and millions in bribes and resignations and indictments and the Onion and the Santa Claus-looking guy who made a lot of money manufacturing smiley-face buttons, who kept a hotel room for his cats with illicit soccer money, who chirped, just like the parrot sometimes perched on his shoulder.

The one that will someday make a fine movie, surely more gripping that the $27 million FIFA-financed propaganda film now playing in U.S. theaters, in which disgraced soon-to-be ex-FIFA president Sepp Blatter is a hero.

FIFA’s scandal has surely overshadowed the women’s World Cup. At the first FIFA press conference of the tournament, for example, officials had to beg journalists to ask about women’s soccer. And that’s a shame, because this is the biggest women’s sporting event on the globe, a rare chance for some of the world’s best female athletes to shine on their own stage (unlike, say, the Olympics, in which both men and women compete).

Not that Sepp Blatter’s downfall isn’t good for the women’s game. He recently called himself the “godfather” of women’s soccer, even though the best players in the world sued FIFA because this World Cup, in Canada, is the first ever—men’s or women’s—to be played on artificial surface. And even though Blatter once said women’s soccer would be more popular if the players wore tighter outfits, and didn’t recognize one of the world’s best players at a FIFA player of the year ceremony in 2013. At that same event, he confused the girlfriend of American standout Abby Wambach for Marta, the Brazilian star who won FIFA world player of the year honors five times, and looks little like Abby Wambach’s then-girlfriend, now-wife. Women’s soccer grew in popularity during Blatter’s reign. But the sport may have succeeded in spite of him.

While soccer fans around the world are cheering U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch for going after FIFA’s alleged crooks, excuse the women’s soccer players at the World Cup if they’re not exactly cheering Lynch and her crew. The timing is unfortunate. Not that the U.S. investigators could wait when justice is at stake, and when the FIFA Congress in Zurich offered the perfect logistical opportunity to arrest a group of fat cats. Plus, once the games begin, maybe fans will turn their attention back to the field. Maybe fans will grow tired of more admissions, indictments, or any other twists this story takes. Maybe they’ll need an on-field distraction more than ever.

Hopefully this is how the World Cup plays out. Still, too bad that FIFA Congress wasn’t in the fall.

TIME FIFA

Sepp Blatter Brings His FIFA Reign to an End

Why the reviled FIFA leader is stepping down

Sepp Blatter, who proclaimed to the world that he was “president of everybody” after winning a fifth term as head of FIFA on Friday, will soon be nobody’s president.

In a stunning turn, Blatter, who seemed to hold so firm to the stance that he, and he alone, could clean up the corrupt organization that he presided over, announced on Tuesday that he would step down as FIFA’s leader, a position he has held since 1998. An extraordinary FIFA congress will meet to elect a new president: the head of FIFA’s audit committee said the timing of the election is “likely to be between December and March.”

Reality got the best of Blatter. Three days after the U.S. government indicted nine FIFA officials for racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering, FIFA’s membership somehow granted Blatter another term. Blatter’s largesse, in the form of grants to so many tiny nations around the world, bought enough votes to clinch a victory that would last all of four days. But it couldn’t stop the storm pounding the organization that, in his words, is “dear to me.”

Was it pending legal trouble that helped bring down Blatter? He painted his resignation as a selfless act, an attempt to give FIFA a fresh start. But his troubles could just be starting. A New York Times report said that Blatter’s top lieutenant made a $10 million bank transaction that puts the bribery trail that much closer to Blatter himself. The New York Daily News reported that Aaron Davidson, one of the sports marketing executives arrested in the U.S. probe into FIFA’s business practices, is trying to cut a plea deal. Will he, and other indicted officials, be singing about Blatter? “Let me be clear,” Kelly Currie, acting U.S. attorney for the eastern district of New York, said last week. “This indictment is not the final chapter of our investigation.” The president’s defiant words on Friday — “Why would I step down? That would mean I recognize that I did wrong” — may yet come back to haunt him.

But Blatter is nothing if not tenacious. “I am a mountain goat that keeps going and going and going,” he once said. “I cannot be stopped, I just keep going.”

Joseph S. Blatter was born in Visp, a remote Swiss Alpine town, and was sportswriter, PR rep, and reportedly a wedding singer before he rose up the ranks at FIFA, where he has worked since 1975. Since he took over as FIFA president in 1998, corruption has tainted his reign. During his first presidential election, there were allegations that some votes were bought. One month before his 2011 re-election, Blatter pledged $1 million in FIFA money at an assembly for CONCACAF, the regional soccer governing body for North America, Central America and the Caribbean at the center of the current scandal.

Almost immediately after FIFA decided in December 2010 to award World Cups to Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022, bribery allegations began surfacing. Last week, the Swiss government announced a criminal investigation specific to the bidding process for these events. The Qatar decision has also sparked a humanitarian crisis. Migrant workers have toiled in triple-digit heat building the stadiums and infrastructure needed for the tiny Gulf nation to host the world’s most popular sporting event. According to a 2014 report from International Trade Union Confederation, 1,200 migrant World Cup workers from India and Nepal have died.

Under Blatter, FIFA has operated with little real transparency. This is an organization that produced a $27 million propaganda film in which Blatter was the hero.

His few supporters will point to his achievements; he did disperse money to many poor countries, where amenities like soccer facilities provided real benefits. The women’s World Cup, and women’s soccer overall, grew in popularity, though Blatter was a clumsy steward. The self-proclaimed “godfather” of women’s soccer once suggested that women wear tighter outfits to attract more fans, and before this year’s women’s World Cup, which kicks off June 6, top players sued FIFA for gender discrimination.

FIFA’s revenues ballooned under Blatter: FIFA currently has $1.5 billion in cash reserves. But how much was the president himself responsible for this business success, given the entrenched popularity of the World Cup, and an environment where media outlets are paying record rights fees across many sports to broadcast big events?

Whoever FIFA elects as its next president will have to grapple with Qatar – can a World Cup conceivably be staged there, given the human toll? — and cleaning up the disgraced organization. Tough times are ahead. But Blatter’s resignation offers hope, for many soccer fans around the globe, that the game’s organizing body can start to reform itself.

“Have a nice day,” a FIFA flack said at the end of the stunning press conference that ended the Blatter era. For soccer fans around the globe, indeed, it was.

 

TIME FIFA

Major FIFA Sponsors Don’t Want to Talk About Qatar, Either

adidas Starts Production of Brazuca Match Balls
Lennart Preiss—Getty Images for adidas Brazuca match balls for the FIFA World Cup 2014 lie in a rack in front of the adidas logo on December 6, 2013 in Scheinfeld near Herzogenaurach, Germany.

Few want to discuss soccer's most important crisis

After Wednesday’s news that the U.S. government indicted top soccer officials on charges of racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering, FIFA’s corporate sponsors expressed concern, saying they were monitoring the situation. They did their predictable finger-waving.

“Our sponsorship has always focused on supporting the teams, enabling a great fan experience, and inspiring communities to come together and celebrate the spirit of competition and personal achievement,” Visa, one of FIFA’s parters, said in a statement. “And it is important that FIFA makes changes now, so that the focus remain on these going forward. Should FIFA fail to do so, we have informed them that we will reassess our sponsorship.”

But companies like Visa should have reassessed their FIFA sponsorship long before the arrests. Because while the scale of the alleged corruption — over $150 million in bribes and kickbacks, according to the Justice Department — is shocking, another scandal has been brewing for years now. And this one involves the loss of many lives.

In December 2010, FIFA awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, a tiny, oil-rich Gulf state with little existing World Cup infrastructure and a dangerously hot climate, for both players and the thousands of migrant workers that have been needed to built the World Cup edifices. As a result, a humanitarian crisis has unfolded. According to a March 2014 report from the International Trade Union Confederation, 1,200 World Cup workers from Nepal and India have died in Qatar since 2010. The ITCU estimates that 4,000 workers could die before the 2022 World Cup kicks off. The Washington Post, drawing on multiple sources, created a graphic comparing World Cup worker deaths in Qatar with fatalities associated with other major sporting events, like the 2012 London Olympics, the 2014 Sochi Olympics and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The differences are stunning.

On top of that, the Nepalese labor minister recently told The Guardian that many World Cup migrants from Nepal have not been permitted to return home from Qatar to mourn family members killed in the April 25 earthquake, which claimed over 8,000 lives.

So FIFA’s most galling corruption isn’t directly connected to the headline-grabbing U.S. indictments. (Yesterday, the Swiss government announced it has launched a criminal investigation into the bid process for both the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 Cup in Qatar). If anything, the publicity surrounding the arrests will shine further light into the Qatar crisis.

And what do Visa and other sponsors have to say about Qatar? Not a whole lot.

TIME reached out to six companies listed in FIFA’s “2015-2022 sponsorship portfolio:” FIFA partners Adidas, Coca-Cola, Hyundai/Kia and Visa, and World Cup sponsors Anheuser-Busch InBev and McDonald’s. We did not seek comment from the seventh sponsor, Russian gas giant Gazprom, whose sponsorship is listed as “2018 only” — connected with the World Cup in Russia. We asked each of them: “how can your company support an organization that is staging an event in Qatar, a place where a humanitarian crisis has unfolded during World Cup preparations, a place where, according to one report, at least 1,200 people have died during World Cup preparations, a place where migrant workers were reportedly not allowed to go home to mourn earthquake victims in Nepal?”

No company made any executive available to answer this question. TIME directly emailed the question to John Lewicki, head of global alliances for McDonald’s and Lucas Herscovici, vice president consumer connections (media, digital, sports & entertainment) at Anheuser-Busch InBev. Neither executive directly responded. We got a flurry of statements. A Visa rep directed TIME to the statement it posted Wednesday in response to the arrests. “Our disappointment and concern with FIFA in light of today’s developments is profound,” the statement said, in part. “As a sponsor, we expect FIFA to take swift and immediate steps to address these issues within its organization. This starts with rebuilding a culture with strong ethical practices in order to restore the reputation of the games for fans everywhere.” When we pointed out that that statement was not specific to the loss of life in Qatar, the rep directed us to an earlier statement, released May 19. “We continue to be troubled by the reports coming out of Qatar related to the World Cup and migrant worker conditions. We have expressed our grave concern to FIFA and urge them to take all necessary actions to work with the appropriate authorities and organizations to remedy this situation and ensure the health and safety of all involved.”

An Adidas rep sent along a statement: “The adidas Group is fully committed to creating a culture that promotes the highest standards of ethics and compliance, and we expect the same from our partners. Following today’s news, we can therefore only encourage FIFA to continue to establish and follow transparent compliance standards in everything they do. adidas is the world’s leading football brand and we will continue to support football on all levels.” This statement, too, is a response to the arrests, not our Qatar question. We pointed this out to Adidas. A spokesperson said this was the company’s standing response.

More than 20 hours after this story was published, Adidas sent another statement: “The adidas Group is committed to ensuring fair labour practices, fair wages and safe working conditions in factories throughout our global supply chain. These active efforts are guided by our core values as a company as well as by our Workplace Standards – contractual obligations under the manufacturing agreements the adidas Group signs with its main business partners. The Workplace Standards are based on the International Labour Organization’s (ILO’s) core labour rights conventions.

“We are in a constant dialogue with our partner FIFA and know that FIFA has repeatedly urged the Qatari authorities to ensure decent conditions for migrant workers in the country. There have been significant improvements and these efforts are ongoing; but everyone recognizes that more needs to be done in a collective effort with all stakeholders involved.”

A Hyundai representative also did not answer the question directly, saying through a statement, “as a company that place the highest priority on ethical standards and transparency, Hyundai Motor is extremely concerned about the legal proceedings being taken against certain FIFA executives and will continue to monitor the situation closely.” A Kia official said in a statement: “Kia Motors takes seriously any reports concerning the poor treatment of migrant workers involved in the construction of venues for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It is our understanding that FIFA and related authorities are taking immediate steps to secure appropriate standards of welfare for all workers involved in these projects, and we will continue to monitor developments in Qatar very closely.” Hyundai is the parent company of Kia.

The statement from McDonald’s: “McDonald’s is committed to doing business around the world in a manner that respects human rights. We have expressed our concerns to FIFA regarding human rights issues in Qatar and know they are working with local authorities to address those concerns.”

Coke: “The Coca-Cola Company does not condone human rights abuses anywhere in the world. We know FIFA is working with Qatari authorities to address specific labor and human rights issues. We expect FIFA to continue taking these matters seriously and to work toward further progress. We welcome constructive dialogue on human rights issues, and we will continue to work with many individuals, human rights organizations, sports groups, government officials and others to develop solutions and foster greater respect for human rights in sports and elsewhere.”

Anheuser-Busch InBev: “We expect all of our partners to maintain strong ethical standards and operate with transparency, and are committed to business practices that do not infringe on human rights. We continue to closely monitor the situation through our ongoing communications with FIFA, including developments in Qatar.”

“It’s very bad business right now to be associated with FIFA,” says Ben Sturner, president and CEO of Leverage Agency, a sports marketing firm. “The Qatar situation is going to force more sponsors away. They have to go away. It’s the humane thing to do.” Do iconic brands like McDonald’s, Coke, and others really feel this way?

If so, they aren’t saying.

TIME Advertising

Here’s How Major FIFA Sponsors Are Reacting to the Scandal

After nine FIFA officials were arrested, sponsors are in the spotlight

The dollar figures associated with the FIFA are all outsize, including the amount of money it garners every year from marketing partnerships. In 2014, it was $177 million.

The corporations that contribute to that sum immediately became the target of scrutiny on Wednesday when the United States Department of Justice unsealed a 47-count indictment that charged nine FIFA officials and five sports marketing executives with racketing, wire fraud and money-laundering.

The indictment placed FIFA sponsors in a pickle: should they continue to market their products through a sport with millions of fans but whose governing body is allegedly seeping with corruption?

Cue sponsors’ delicate dance.

Visa Inc., which has partnered with FIFA since 2007, told The Wall Street Journal the investigations could cause the company to end its agreement, which runs until 2022. Visa said that it had informed the federation that it “will reassess its sponsorship” if FIFA fails to rebuild “a culture with strong ethical practices to restore the reputation of the games for fans everywhere”

Adidas AG told the Journal that it was monitoring the situation, as did Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. Hyundai Motors said it was “deeply concerned” about the allegations.

It’s safe to say FIFA’s sponsors are in a tough spot. Wednesday’s indictment was scalding, but it’s unlikely to deplete the sport’s massive fan following. An estimated 1 billion people watched at least one minute of the 2010 World Cup final. For comparison, 114.4 million people tuned into this year’s Super Bowl.

Like it or not, FIFA sponsors’ immediate reaction to Wednesday’s news is in line with how sponsors have reacted to other sports scandals. When the National Football League faced criticism this fall for how it handled players’ questionable conduct, companies like Pepsi and Anheuser-Busch voiced concern over the incidents but they never withdrew their sponsorships.

TIME Soccer

Fallout From FIFA Corruption Probe Intensifies

Soccer's governing body is also at risk of losing millions in sponsorship deals

Corporate sponsors are scrambling to distance themselves from the sprawling corruption dragnet launched against soccer’s global governing body, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), by American and Swiss authorities this week.

On Wednesday, prosecutors in the U.S. unveiled a 47-count indictment against 14 defendants tied to the federation, including nine FIFA officials, who are accused of involvement in racketeering, wire fraud and money-laundering conspiracies.

“Our investigation revealed that what should be an expression of international sportsmanship was used as a vehicle in a broader scheme to line executives’ pockets with bribes totaling $110 million — nearly a third of the legitimate costs of the rights to the tournaments involved,” Loretta Lynch, the U.S. Attorney General, told reporters during a press conference in Brooklyn.

The presentation of the indictment in New York City came as officials in Switzerland launched their own criminal proceedings related to the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, following the arrest of seven FIFA officials in Zurich on the eve of the federation’s 65th international congress in the city.

Corporate sponsors linked to the organization appear to be in all-out damage control mode as the investigation made international headlines. World Cup sponsor Visa joined the chorus of saber rattlers lambasting FIFA and threatened to abandon its deal with the organization if it failed to weed out corruption in its ranks.

“It is important that FIFA makes changes now,” read a statement released by Visa. “Should FIFA fail to do so, we have informed them that we will reassess our sponsorship.”

Global soft-drink juggernaut Coca-Cola, which is also listed as one of seven FIFA partners for the 2018 World Cup, also sought to disassociate itself from the investigation, blasting the association for bringing disrepute to the sport.

“This lengthy controversy has tarnished the mission and ideals of the FIFA World Cup and we have repeatedly expressed our concerns about these serious allegations,” said the company in a statement.

However, sponsors also appear to be firmly in the crosshairs of the U.S Justice Department.

During the press conference in Brooklyn, Attorney General Lynch said the corruption probe also covered “agreements regarding sponsorship of the Brazilian national soccer team by a major U.S. sportswear company,” a not-so-vague reference to the 10-year, $160 million deal that Nike and the Brazilian national team inked in 1996.

On Wednesday, U.S. officials promised that the investigation launched this week was only the first chapter in their probe into corruption in international soccer.

“This is the beginning of our effort, not the end,” stressed Kelly Currie, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “We are looking into individuals and entities in a variety of countries.”

TIME Sports

The Beginning of the End for Sepp Blatter

If FIFA is going to reform itself, its president must go

Yes, Sepp Blatter was not one of soccer officials nabbed by the authorities in Zurich on May 27, as part of the U.S. government’s indictment of 14 people—including top FIFA brass—charged with money laundering, racketeering and wire fraud. Public opinion, however, will cast the FIFA president’s escape as a mere technicality. According to the laws of Nixonian physics, this scandal points right to the top.

Kickback allegations have shadowed Blatter and his organization since he took over as FIFA president in 1998. Blatter plays big-league pork politics, using his substantial war chest—FIFA has more than $1.5 billion in reserves—to dole out funds to officials of tiny soccer federations, who sometimes keep the money. In November, for example, Nepal’s top soccer official temporarily stepped down after he was accused of stealing more than $5 million. These rich grants buy loyalty: in FIFA presidential elections, the votes of Nepal and Montserrat count just as much as those of America and Brazil.

Will Blatter even survive the presidential election on May 29 that UEFA, Europe’s governing soccer body, insists should be delayed? He was supposed to win his fifth term with ease. Now, it’s no longer a coronation. “If he’s not detained, he’ll probably win,” says Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist from Smith College and author of the book Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup. “FIFA’s propaganda machine strong, and is already distancing Blatter from the charges.” In a statement released on FIFA.com, Blatter said: “Let me be clear: such misconduct has no place in football and we will ensure that those who engage in it are put out of the game.”

Even if Blatter somehow survives Friday’s election, Zimbalist believes this scandal will be too tough for him to overcome long-term: “FIFA is an international monopoly with control over a very popular product.” In 2014, a World Cup year, FIFA generated $2 billion in revenues. “If the power is in control of the wrong people,” Zimbalist adds, “things get out of hand.” For FIFA to change, and win back the constituents its supposed to serve—players and fans of the beautiful game—Blatter has to go. Because, as Zimablist puts it, “I don’t think there is any hope of reforming Sepp Blatter.”

Read next: U.S. Accuses Soccer Officials of Decades of ‘Rampant, Systemic and Deep-Rooted’ Corruption

TIME Companies

Famous Logos Redesigned in Protest Are Pretty Shocking

Qatar Looks To 2022 FIFA World Cup
Sean Gallup/Getty Images DOHA, QATAR - OCTOBER 24: Arab men sit at a shoemaker's stall with a replica of the FIFA World Cup trophy in the Souq Waqif traditional market on October 24, 2011 in Doha, Qatar. Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup football competition and is slated to tackle a variety of infrastructure projects, including the construction of new stadiums. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Pressure is mounting over worker deaths in Qatar

More than 1,400 workers have died at World Cup construction sites in Qatar, and now designers are putting the pressure on FIFA’s sponsors.

Today, nine FIFA officials were arrested in Switzerland and indicted with U.S. corruption charges—but these arrests appear unrelated to the worker deaths in Qatar. A new campaign led by the International Trade Union Confederation, a global trade group representing workers’ rights, calls for more attention on the dire issue and estimates that there will be 62 worker deaths for each World Cup game played in Qatar. As a result, major World Cup sponsors like Visa and Adidas have issued stern statements of concern, but have not pulled their sponsorships.

A number of designers online have taken up the mantle of pressuring those same sponsors by redesigning their corporate logos, tweaking the art and adding the slogan “proud sponsor of the human rights abuses of World Cup 2022.” They have submitted designs with the logos of Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Adidas, Sony and others.

The new logo designs are being posted at Bored Panda, where anyone on the Web can submit additional designs. Many of them also play with the official slogans of the sponsors, such as one that takes Sony’s “make believe” and changes it to “make slavery.”

Some of the most striking redesigns are below:

Adidas

Sony

McDonald’s

Coca-Cola

Visa

MONEY Sports

FIFA Officials Arrested for Corruption, Indicted by U.S. DOJ

The U.S. Justice Department indicted 14 people with ties to international soccer, including FIFA officials, on a long list of charges.

TIME World Cup

Russia Eyes Use of Prison Labor to Prepare for World Cup

Journalists look at a light installation showing the official logotype of the 2018 FIFA World Cup during its unveiling ceremony at the Bolshoi Theater building in Moscow, October 28, 2014.
Maxim Shemetov—Reuters Journalists look at a light installation showing the official logotype of the 2018 FIFA World Cup during its unveiling ceremony at the Bolshoi Theater building in Moscow, October 28, 2014.

Country hopes to keep costs down amid economic struggles

The Russian government has proposed using prisoners to help prepare for the 2018 World Cup.

Alexander Khinshtein, a lawmaker, has gotten the backing of the Russian prison service to enlist some of the country’s prisoners in building projects related to the soccer tournament, the Associated Press reports. Such an initiative would help keep costs of the World Cup down, since Russia typically pays prisoners about $300 per month for labor projects.

“It’ll help in the sense that there will be the opportunity to acquire building materials for a lower price,” Khinshtein told the AP. “And apart from that it’ll make it possible to get prisoners into work, which is very positive.”

The total estimated budget for the 2018 World Cup is 638 billion rubles, or more than $12 billion. However, the Russian ruble has lost significant value against the dollar since the start of 2014 because of international sanctions imposed against the country and the falling price of oil.

[AP]

TIME Soccer

Soccer Star Alex Morgan: Sepp Blatter Didn’t Know Who I Was

FIFA president Joseph S. Blatter, Alex Morgan and French actor Gerard Depardieu during the red carpet arrivals at the FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala 2012 at the Kongresshaus on Jan. 7, 2013 in Zurich.
Alexander Hassenstein—FIFA via Getty Images FIFA president Joseph S. Blatter, Alex Morgan and French actor Gerard Depardieu during the red carpet arrivals at the 2012 FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala in Zurich.

Morgan calls Blatter's failure to recognize her at FIFA World Player of the Year event "shocking"

Controversial FIFA president Sepp Blatter, whose tenure atop world soccer’s governing body has been pockmarked by scandal, recently called himself “a godfather” of women’s soccer. That’s particularly amusing, considering that a group of top women’s players recently sued FIFA for gender discrimination. And that U.S. star Alex Morgan–who has nearly 1.7 million Twitter followers, tops among women soccer players–says she once went unrecognized by Blatter at an event honoring the world’s top players.

In an interview with TIME, Morgan was asked if she’s had to deal with sexism and misogyny.

“I have experienced sexism multiple times, and I’m sure I will a lot more,” she said. “I feel like I’m fighting for female athletes. At the FIFA World Player of the Year event [in 2012], FIFA executives and FIFA president Sepp Blatter didn’t know who I was. And I was being honored as top three in the world. That was pretty shocking.”

The women sued FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association because the upcoming World Cup, which kicks off June 6, is being contested on artificial turf. Many players detest this surface, saying it leads to more injuries, and disrupts the tempo of the game. No men’s World Cup has even been played on turf. The players dropped the complaint in January. Their attorney said they wanted to shift the focus from the controversy to World Cup preparation.

Morgan’s full interview — 10 Questions With Alex Morgan — appears in the June 1 edition of TIME, on newsstands now. Subscribers can read it here. Subscribe to TIME here.

FIFA’s presidential election is May 29; Blatter is running for a fifth term. Two rivals just pulled out of the contest.

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