Sunday, January 24, 2021

FIFA Executives accused of taking bribes over World Cup bids

According to US Prosecutors, a number of FIFA executives took bribes in return for voting in favour of Russia and Qatar hosting the 2018 and 2022 World Cups respectively.

The FBI have been running an investigation into corruption in football for some time now, and this latest development could be a seriously significant twist to the tale.

The new indictment was revealed in the US District Court on Monday. The documents read out claim that a number of former FIFA executives “were offered or received bribes in connection with their votes”.

The executives who have had accusations thrown their way them in this latest twist include former CONMEBOL president, Nicolas Leoz – who passed away last year in Paraguay while fighting extradition to the United States.

As well as Leoz, former Brazil Football Federation boss Ricardo Teixeira was alleged to have taken a bribe in order to sway his vote for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup.

Former FIFA vice-president and and CONCACAF President Jack Warner was also involved. The Trinidadian was found to be guilty of “wire fraud, racketeering, and money laundering” during his time in football. Consequently, he was banned from all football activity for life.

His latest accusation in the brand new indictment accuses Warner of taking a bribe to facilitate Russia’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup. He was allegedly paid £4m by offshore shell-corporations to secure his vote for the Russian bid.

Another FIFA Ex-Co member, Rafael Salguero, was allegedly promised a bribe if he voted for Russia. Salguero is currently serving a ban from football having admitted corruption last year.

Interestingly, television giants 21st Century Fox have also been charged in the indictment having paid South American football officials to secure the broadcast rights.

FIFA have been profiteering for years

“The profiteering and bribery in international soccer have been deep-seated and commonly known practices for decades,” said FBI assistant director-in-charge William Sweeney.

“The FBI are investigating the illicit handshakes and backroom deals hidden in the infrastructure of soccer events, venues and marketing contracts.

“The first public charges date back to 2015. This should illustrate to everyone still hoping to score millions corruptly, we’re going to find you.”

It’s been a decade since these votes took place now, but since the US Department of Justice decided they were investigating the sports governing body back in 2015, there has been a major shakeup at the top.

Over the course of the investigation, the US DoJ have charged 46 people, 28 of whom pleaded guilty to their corruption charges. This scandal also led to long-time FIFA president Sepp Blatter stepping aside from the top job in disgrace.

Obviously with the Russia World Cup having taken place almost two years ago there’s little to be done there. However, the Qatar World Cup is still two and a half years away, so this fresh development could yet have a serious impact.

The US officials have never been able to prove the involvement of the Russian and Qatari governing bodies. As such, the investigation into those federations in particular went cold in 2017.

Now though, with them having laid out the latest development in the corruption scandal in unprecedented detail, there will almost certainly be pressure on the Department of Justice to reopen the investigation into exactly how these votes were won…

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