FIFA has announced that it will release its internal ethics report in full, although it will redact certain parts to protect individuals from public scrutiny. The decision reverses its earlier stance to keep the report within the organization.

FIFA had come under fire for commissioning the report from former U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia, then the chief investigator for the organization's ethics committee.

Upon reading the 430-page report, though, FIFA decided to release the report as a summarized version written by a different member of the ethics committee.

That decision prompted Garcia to resign his position only 24 hours later, accusing FIFA of releasing a summary that misrepresented the report's findings. The summary suggested that the only ethics violations identified were minor; Garcia says his report does not agree.

Meanwhile, FIFA president Sepp Blatter confirmed that the organization would not re-open voting on the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, set to be hosted by Russia and Qatar.

At a press conference, Blatter changed his tune after previously opposing the ethics report's release: "We have always been determined that the truth should be known."

It remains to be seen, however, just how much of the report is redacted. FIFA claims it is committed to transparency, but its actions have suggested the opposite.

Blatter did say that the report inspired significant changes within the organization, but he declined to elaborate on those changes or why they were necessary. Perhaps the full report will shed some light on the matter.

What's happening in Qatar is sickening: Some of the most beautiful soccer stadiums the world has ever seen are being built by migrant workers who have come to Qatar seeking work.

What they find, instead, is a form of slavery. Those workers often have to pay outrageous recruitment fees to find work in the first place. When they are hired, their employers often take their passports.

In fact, employers assume a sort of pseudo-ownership over migrant workers in which their legal residence is their employer's location. Although laws are in place to regulate timely wage payments, health insurance, annual leave and safety regulations, they are frequently ignored.

"Adding to their vulnerability, they must obtain an exit visa from their sponsor in order to leave Qatar," reports Human Rights Watch. "Migrant workers are prohibited from unionizing or engaging in strikes, although they make up 99 percent of the private sector workforce."

In Qatar, thousands of migrant workers die every year from being overworked: Suffering heart attacks, dying from exhaustion and other work-related afflictions. The stadiums that will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup are not exempt from this mass murder.

Hundreds have already died, according to human rights activists. In fact, by the time the stadiums are fully constructed, an estimated 4,000 migrant workers will be killed by these work sites. That's an average of about one death per day.

When they aren't risking their lives building stadiums for the country's ultra-wealthy, migrant workers in Qatar have the privilege of serving as fake sports fans for one dollar per hour. As reported by the Associated Press, Qatar's ruling emir is obsessed with attracting major sporting events, but filling the stadium with excited fans -- the organic kind -- is quite a challenge. So migrant workers get to file into the stands they built and pretend that they're having fun, so long as they didn't die during the long workday beforehand.

What's happening in Qatar is so grossly inhumane that a Paris architecture firm has released designs for a memorial to the killed migrant workers. The Jenga-like tower would feature one horizontal column for each worker killed during the soccer stadium construction process. The brilliant and practical feature is that the tower could be built infinitely to accommodate as many dead as Qatar can produce.

The injustices faced by migrant workers are a national problem in Qatar outside of the World Cup. But FIFA's decision to award Qatar the 2022 tournament implicitly endorses the labor that would be used to construct those stadiums. It sends a message to Qatar that it can ascend to the globe's most visible platforms by climbing up the backs of people owned by their employers like property.

And it's only the most inhumane example of FIFA's blatant dismissal of ethics or morals as it boldly goes on doing whatever it damn well pleases. At this point, it's clear FIFA won't reform itself unless serious action is taken by its member organizations.

What's unclear is what it will take for those countries and associations to take a stand.


Every week, it seems, there's a new storyline concerning scandal within FIFA. Throughout the fall and into winter, though, those stories have concerned an increasingly daring and combative FIFA.

In some ways, that corruption is a part of FIFA's DNA, going back decades to the early years of organizing soccer into an international sport. The more pertinent issues concerning it today stem from a 430-page report ordered by FIFA to investigate accusations of bribery and other corruption regarding the World Cup bidding processes that placed the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in the hands of Russia and Qatar, respectively.

FIFA assigned the report's creation to Michael J. Garcia, a former U.S. Attorney and a member of the FIFA ethics committee. Eighteen months later, Garcia produces a 430-page report that offered as in-depth of a conclusion as he could offer, given that Russia refused to cooperate with the investigation while inquiries regarding Qatar simply weren't able to be answered in full.

It was expected that the report would be made available to the public. But after FIFA's executive committee read through it, they shut the door on its full publication. Instead, a 42-page summary of that report was drafted by Hans-Joachim Eckert, another member of the ethics committee, and only the summary was released.

Garcia appealed, contending that the summary did not accurately represent the findings detailed in the report. Of course, FIFA rejected that appeal.

Left with no other option, Garcia resigned from the FIFA ethics committee Wednesday.

"(My) report identified serious and wide-ranging issues with the bidding and (World Cup host) selection process," Garcia said in a statement Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. Garcia also said that Eckert's decision to publish an inaccurate summary "made me lose confidence in the independence of the Adjudicatory Chamber, (but) it is the lack of leadership on these issues within FIFA that leads me to conclude that my role in this process is at an end."

Garcia also challenged FIFA and its ability to correct itself internally after years of rampant corruption.

"No independent governance committee, investigator, or arbitration panel can change the culture of an organization," Garcia said.

FIFA's president made only a limited acknowledgement of Garcia's resignation.

"I'm just surprised," Blatter said. "It's all what I can say. Just that."

There are parties within soccer's organized hierarchy that see Garcia's resignation for what it is: Another black eye on FIFA's integrity. FIFA vice president Michel Platini was disappointed to see Garcia go, and he's been an outspoken critic of FIFA under Blatter's leadership. Platini, who is also the UEFA president, has refused to support Blatter as president of FIFA. But Platini has also declined to put himself up for election to FIFA's top position.

He called Garcia's resignation "a new failure for FIFA."

"FIFA's ethics committee was created to increase transparency at the organization, that's what we wanted, but in the end it has just caused more confusion," Platini said.

Platini may not want to pursue the presidential seat within FIFA, but his voice will be an important one in righting a ship that has sailed so far in the wrong direction. The circumstances surrounding Garcia's report, and the way his findings were obscured in the infamous "Eckert Decision," snuff out what was more or less the only realistic hope FIFA had of driving reform from within.

By refusing to hold itself accountable, FIFA has demonstrated that only force will prompt it into action. Platini himself may not be entirely clear of corruption -- he was reportedly offered a Picasso painting as a kickback from Russian president Vladimir Putin -- but as a legendary soccer player for France and an executive in both FIFA and UEFA, Platini has the power to incite more palpable demands for change.

Rhetoric alone won't do it, though. To inspire any progress, FIFA needs to face imminent financial threats. Europe's football association is the organization best-positioned to force such an ultimatum. By coming together and taking a stance -- a protest involving even a handful of countries -- major soccer nations like England and Germany could threaten to boycott the upcoming World Cups unless serious reforms are made by FIFA.

Financial consequences are the only thing FIFA is sure to respond to, which means a revolution has to come from major soccer powers.

A boycott of the World Cup sounds extreme, but there were already rumblings last month that UEFA members would discuss the possibility of a boycott. FIFA's decision to withhold its own ethics report will surely stoke that fire.

The risks those countries face are not small: Millions of dollars lost, an absence from soccer's most celebrated stage, and all without the assurances that FIFA will enact any credible change.

The alternatives, though, are even worse: FIFA continuing to operate unchecked, dismissing ethical charges and continuing to taint international soccer by allowing bribes and corruption to dictate the organization's actions.

Meanwhile, FIFA is content to incentivize the systemic human rights violations ongoing in Qatar at this very minute, and for years ahead.

Time is running short to pull the plug on Qatar's World Cup bid. It may come to pass that in the year 2022, the world's most popular sport will be played on a cutting-edge stage built by slave labor.

There's no place for that kind of dichotomy in an event designed to celebrate humanity and cultural diversity through soccer. But then, that narrative only matters to fans and the participants. And FIFA must be grateful for the distraction.

Three months ago, a wave of scandals hit the NFL. Its fans and non-fans demanded change.

People that didn't even follow football were eager to decry the sport and its governing bodies, assaulting them with criticisms of barbarism and rampant negligence. Football was broken, its reputation was in shambles, and its future -- as the media frenzy suggested -- was in peril.

If you took that widely circulating observation word-for-word, you probably didn't see things working out the way they have. The state of professional football is quite a bit better off than many likely expected or hoped.

Give some of the credit to the league itself. The NFL has taken many steps to reconcile with a disgruntled society. It has established a four-female domestic violence committee to chime in on the league's domestic violence policy. It has admitted fault -- with great difficulty, it's worth noting, and only after an absurd amount of pressure was applied -- for its prior mismanagement of Ray Rice and similar player conduct situations.

The league has launched a PSA campaign that directly addresses domestic violence. And Goodell himself has even said he would be willing to relinquish his authority in punishing players.

Each time one of these steps have been taken, the same familiar questions have been tossed around. Will this be enough to repair the league's image? Will fans forgive the NFL?

And so here we are three months later, with a supposedly reformed NFL that says it has learned its lesson. Fans and the media are ready to buy the narrative, kiss and make up. Somehow the mass plagues of the NFL, its players and its fans were miraculously healed, and I missed it.

I don't know if the NFL has changed in the past three months. All I know is this: We're not asking the same questions anymore. And we're not demanding answers.


Adrian Peterson is the last unsolved variable in a formula that's grown all too familiar.

The formula goes a little something like this: First, take a large, wealthy organization and get it hellbent on maximizing profits. Insert ethical dilemmas that are pushed to the side so that the view of oncoming profits isn't obstructed.

(If you're having trouble conceptualizing this formula, insert major banking institutions circa 2008 as the wealthy organizations, and relaxed mortgage lending practices as the ethical dilemma.)

Now the critical ingredient: Public awareness. Without public awareness, the wealthy organization proceeds as usual. But when the public learns of ethical concerns, it tends to react. And the wealthy organization is forced to adjust course -- if not for legal consequences, then surely to maintain the business of those consumers.

I won't pretend to be an expert in economics, but this strikes me as an absurd fallacy -- one that benefits the wealthy organizations greatly. Today's culture is one that loves to be outraged -- our social networks are built to accommodate insincere gesticulating. There's so much satisfaction in being a part of the outcry.

The NFL knows this. It understands that fans have short memories, that they want to give the league the benefit of the doubt, and that the product of football is too alluring for most fans to abstain from, even temporarily.

Outcry is the best things those fans have. And the reason is simple: For as terrible as it was that Roger Goodell needed two different security tapes to punish Ray Rice, and as absurd as it was that the league funded the production and publication of biased research that obscured the true threat of concussions to football players, the intrigue of games proves irresistible. The Raiders are still playing on Sunday? Hey, they just might get lucky and beat the 49ers. (They did.)

This isn't like shopping at Target when Wal-Mart makes you mad. There is no substitute for NFL football. For fans to take a tangible stand, it's got to outweigh the love for the game. The NFL could get away for murder -- and some would say, based on the chronic traumatic encephalopathy afflicting its current and former players, it has -- and fans would still watch.

All the NFL needs to do is provide a modicum of evidence that it is trying to reform itself, just enough to keep the activists and politicians off their case and out of their way. If the league can do that, he fans will be of no concern. You'll find them in the same place every Sunday.

This is where Adrian Peterson enters the equation. Right now, the Vikings running back is in purgatory. He has no idea when the NFL will let him back in, if ever. After reaching a plea deal in a child abuse case in Texas -- where he was charged with applying corporal punishment to his four-year-old through a switch -- Peterson appeared to be ready to return from an indefinite suspension.

The NFL had other plans, suspending him indefinitely and saying he couldn't apply for reinstatement until mid-April. But there are now suggestions that Peterson was promised by NFL executive Troy Vincent that he would only be given a two-game suspension.

In response, Peterson has filed a federal lawsuit against the league.

Whether or not Peterson deserves his punishment is beside the point. In Peterson, the NFL holds one last wild card that hasn't been laid on the table. Ray Rice won his appeal of an indefinite suspension by Goodell -- an action the arbitrator termed "an abuse of discretion."

Rice is free and clear to join another NFL team. Peterson, though, remains firmly in the league's control. Based on the evidence, it appears the league is unhappy that Peterson did not play the part as directed by the NFL in moving toward reinstatement for the league.

For that, Goodell came down hard.

Who knows what happens to Adrian Peterson -- if his case makes it all the way to federal court, or if he and the NFL come to an agreement on their own. Whatever might come down the pike, we can say right now, with reasonable assurance, that the reason Adrian Peterson is not playing football has nothing to do with child abuse anymore.

This is about power now. This is about the NFL's determination to win.


The NFL is fine. In fact, it's great.

Maybe Goodell has has to endure some strong words from critics. Troy Vincent had to stand in front of the U.S. Senate so politicians could frown at him. Anheuser-Busch, along with a handful of other sponsors including McDonald's, Campbell's Soup and Visa, let the NFL know it wasn't happy with all the bad press.

But they didn't do anything about it.

By the end of October, TV ratings were in the clear. Sunday viewership had dipped slightly, but Monday and Thursday night football programming had gone up over previous years, according to Street and Smith's Sports Business Daily.

And according to an article published by Sports Business Daily last month, more women are watching football than ever -- NFL broadcasts have seen a 5 percent increase in viewership from women ages 18 to 49. The onslaught of domestic violence stories didn't deter too many would-be viewers.

In that respect, fans have precisely the league they have asked for. They have decried the league's actions, its disregard for player safety and for the safety of the players' wives, girlfriends and children. They have also made it clear -- through their wallets and their attentions -- that for all of this injustice, football is still the most important thing.

And that is how the NFL chooses to operate. Domestic violence is bad, child abuse is bad, concussions are bad. They will do what they must to keep those things from hurting football, but their intentions have revealed themselves to be more practical than noble.

Here we are, three months after Roger Goodell and the NFL faced one of its worst public relations crises in recent memory. Everything is hunky-dory, more or less. We've screamed on social media, tsk-tsked and shaken our heads, and we've gotten results tantamount to our presumed level of care.

Thanks to us, the NFL has held up appearances, put on a good face and danced around enough that it can claim moral progress.

Its fans couldn't have done better if they tried.

See Slideshow >>

Roger Goodell has had a hard time keeping his name out of the news this year -- and not in a good way. For that, the NFL commissioner has been named a finalist for the Time Person of the Year award.

Before you spit out your coffee, consider what the award is intended to accomplish. This isn't an award for the world's greatest person. Rather, it's a distinction given to the person who Time Magazine decides has been the most influential on the news in 2014.

And for that, Goodell certainly has a compelling case.

From the botched punishment of Ray Rice and larger oversights on handling domestic violence, to the startling trends of violence and law-breaking among NFL teams, to the ongoing concussion lawsuits that have painted an image of villainy for the NFL, Goodell has faced the heat in a highly public forum -- and, too many times, he has failed to properly respond.

Things got so bad for Goodell that, at one point, critics openly wondered whether he would be forced to resign his position.

At the moment, the NFL waters appear to have been relatively calmed, although Goodell's headaches are sure to continue into the future: A proposed settlement on the class-action concussion lawsuit filed by former players has yet to be officially resolved, and observers are still waiting to see how Goodell handles any further suspension for Adrian Peterson.

Meanwhile, the league's image remains sensitive to any other scandals that should break out in the near future. And Goodell has been the face of the action -- and too often, the face of an organization that many feel has too much power and not enough accountability.

When you consider all of that, Goodell certainly has the resume as one of 2014's most notable individuals.

If the past couple of weeks have taught us anything, it's that the public shouldn't expect the NFL to be progressive on any social issue, much less one that affects the viability of one of its most recognizable brands.

No, it turns out that ground zero for the debate over the use of "Redskins" as a mascot is not in professional sports, but in the newsroom of a Pennsylvania high school.

You might recognize Neshaminy High School's The Playwickian from some of our past coverage. In June, we profiled the school's internal disagreement over its use of Redskins as the school's mascot. An editorial in the paper condemned the use of the mascot. Its writer, Emily Scott, described the reaction as "scary."

Nevertheless, The Playwickian pressed on with its proclamation that it would cease using the term "Redskins" going forward. That stance received a harsh response earlier this month, when editor-in-chief Gillian McGoldrick was suspended from the paper for a month.

At the same time, the paper's faculty adviser, Tara Huber, also received a two-day suspension without pay. The suspension was handed down by district Superintendent Robert Copeland.

Neshaminy High's leadership has dug its heels in the ground on this issue, and the conflict between school officials and the student newspaper has been steadily building for the past year. This has constituted a number of disciplinary threats from the principal, as well as confiscated copies of issues of the newspaper and even a $1,200 deduction of funds from the newspaper's spending account.

School officials also tried to block the newspaper from accessing its social media accounts.

Those students running the paper may appear to be outmatched, but fortunately there is some positive news: Press freedom advocates from the Student Press Law Center have stepped in to offer their support. Although the involvement of attorneys did not dissuade the school from suspending McGoldrick and Huber, the SPLC has helped increase the national media attention this story is receiving.

Also worth noting is that The Playwickian is not the first to make such a resolution. Several newspapers and news outlets, including the New York Daily News, Seattle Times, San Francisco Chronicle and Kansas City Star, no longer refer to the professional NFL team by their official nickname.

Even Phil Simms, a former NFL quarterback now serving as an analyst for CBS Sports, has said he won't say the nickname out loud during any games he is assigned to broadcast. Super Bow champion coach Tony Dungy is doing likewise on NBC.

Unfortunately, supporters of the Redskins mascot have proven to be remarkably stubborn about the issue. Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder has said before that he will "never" change the team's mascot. It appears Neshaminy High's leadership has adopted a similar tone.

But then again, it's always amazing how the bright spotlight of national media scrutiny can spark such a sudden change of heart. Just ask the NFL.

You know you're unpopular when fans want to trade your jersey to get the jersey of a kicker.

According to the Baltimore Sun, thousands of fans were at M&T Bank Stadium early on Friday to exchange their Ray Rice jerseys for similar apparel of a different player. And the very first fan in line, said he was going for kicker Justin Tucker.

Considering that the jersey exchange runs for two full days, it's noteworthy that thousands felt they had to show up early Friday morning. The line was so long that one fan, Tim Krempa, joked to the Sun, "I thought they were giving away iPhones."

Many expressed disappointment in Rice, once among the team's most popular players, and made it clear they didn't want to support him in any way.

Others acknowledged the high cost of officially licensed NFL player jerseys, which retail for anywhere from $100 to $300 each.

Fans attending the exchange will have their jerseys examined by an official NFL representative to ensure the jerseys being traded are officially licensed gear. If the jerseys are authentic, fans will be entitled to their choice of a jersey representing a current Ravens player.

Rice, for those living off the grid this past week, was cut by the Ravens and indefinitely suspended by the NFL after video was leaked that shows Rice punching and knocking out his then-fiance in a casino elevator.

After reports of the incident came out, Rice was suspended by the league for two games. But the video prompted the NFL and the Ravens to take their own respective courses of action.

The Ravens aren't the first team to offer an exchange when one of their players gets into legal trouble. The New England Patriots ran a similar exchange after star tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested and charged with murder prior to the 2013 season.

There's no hotter sports topic right now than the trending criminal violence among NFL players. But while prominent figures like Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice are receiving the bulk share of media coverage, their respective situations represent a much deeper problem within football culture.

At the same time, some NFL franchises are better at avoiding this behavior than others. Is Adrian Peterson an isolated case, or does he play for a franchise that always seems to find its players in trouble?

Thanks to Dayton Business Journal, we now know the answer. View the slideshow below to see which teams have the best and worst arrest rates in the NFL.

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