The Federation International de Football Association (FIFA), the international body that runs world soccer, has long operated as a world unto itself. Headquartered in Zurich, it enjoys loose oversight from Swiss authorities as well as those of the European Union; its watchdogs, such as they exist, are largely internal. Judging from the report on the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups and the way that report is being handled, those dogs are sleeping.

FIFA considered 11 bids for the two World Cup finals; in some cases the bids were for both tournaments. By the time of the decision, the 2018 options included England, Russia, and joint bids from Belgium and the Netherlands, and Portugal and Spain. The 2022 bidders were Australia, Japan, Qatar, South Korea and the United States. Russia and Qatar prevailed. In both cases, the decisions were heralded as expanding the game's turf: Russia was the first Eastern European country to host a World Cup, while Qatar was the first Middle Eastern country to enjoy that honor.

Almost immediately, controversy erupted. Two members of the FIFA Executive Committee had their voting rights suspended after they were accused of offering votes for money. Media in losing countries bitterly complained that political and personal concerns outweighed the interests of the game. Allegations of vote-buying, typically in the form of financing for executive committee members' pet projects, were rampant. The head of England's 2018 bid committee told the House of Commons that four Executive Committee members offered support in exchange for various things, including, in one case, a knighthood.