Brooklyn Journal of International Law


In the wake of the FIFA corruption scandal of 2015, certain realities have come to light. FIFA’s corruption knows no bounds, but fans of the sport will watch nonetheless. What is less apparent is that the two most prominent international criminal courts—the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) fail to have jurisdiction over the FIFA organization or its officials when they engage in white-collar crimes that sanction human rights abuses abroad. This Note examines how FIFA officials’ acceptance of Qatari bribes to host the 2022 World Cup exposed alarming jurisdictional inadequacies of the ICJ and ICC. The deficiencies of these global courts provide the potential for future organizations and their officials to exploit jurisdictional nuance in order to avoid being prosecuted for international crimes. This Note begins by discussing the origins of the two courts and the circumstances that led to their creation, while pointing out the basis of jurisdiction in each court. The Note will then describe the kafala system that governs Qatar’s migrant worker population and FIFA’s involvement in human rights abuses in Qatar that were committed through the kafala system.

This Note will then assess how the jurisdictional limitations of both the ICJ and the ICC prevent these global criminal courts from having jurisdiction over organizations like FIFA or its officials, and will conclude by advocating for amending the Rome Charter, which established the ICC, to include nonnatural organizations like FIFA within the jurisdiction of the court and bolstering the accomplice liability section of the statute to ensnare individuals who cause human rights abuses indirectly through white collar crimes.