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Fifa makes massive damages claim against officials involved in bribery scandals

Football’s governing body has accepted that World Cup votes were sold but wants compensation from those involved for ‘tarnishing its brand’.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino wants the governing body to be compensated for the bribery scandal that rocked world football.
Fifa president Gianni Infantino wants the governing body to be compensated for the bribery scandal that rocked world football.
Image: Joe Giddens

FIFA HAS DEMANDED tens of millions of dollars in damages from the “sordid” officials facing charges in the United States over mass bribery scandals that have rocked world football.

In a wide-ranging admission to US authorities on the scope of corruption in the game, football’s governing body openly accused South Africa of paying a US$10 million bribe to secure votes for the 2010 World Cup.

Fifa also highlighted how one of the main accused, former Fifa vice-president Jeffrey Webb, has allegedly been leading a champagne lifestyle despite agreeing to hand over millions of dollars as part of a plea deal with US authorities.

World football is at the centre of multiple inquiries into bribery and misconduct and the award of World Cup tournaments.

On top of 39 individuals facing charges, seven in the United States for more than US$200 million in bribes, its former leader Sepp Blatter and his heir apparent Michel Platini have been banned.

Fifa has accused the tainted officials of “brazen corruption”.

“By corrupting these tournaments, matches, sponsorships, and other football affairs through their backroom deals and secret payoffs, the defendants dragged Fifa into their sordid misconduct and tarnished the Fifa brand,” said the Fifa demand for restitution made to US authorities.”

Fifa said in a statement that it “estimates that at a minimum tens of millions of dollars were diverted from the football community illegally through bribery, kickbacks and corrupt schemes carried out by the defendants.

“This amount is likely to increase as the investigation continues.”

It will seek money from the US$190 million that the United States says has been forfeited by the 39 individuals and two companies facing charges.

Fifa named 20 former executive committee members and leading officials in regional confederations that it said had taken more than US$28 million in compensation, travel and other costs alone.

“Fifa, as the world governing body of football, wants that money back and we are determined to get it no matter how long it takes,” said Gianni Infantino, who was elected as Fifa president on 26 February.

The convicted defendants abused the positions of trust they held at Fifa and other international football organisations and caused serious and lasting damage to Fifa, its member associations and the football community.

The Fifa claim said the corrupt officials “betrayed their duties and sold their powers to the highest bidder”.

Many of the bribes were paid for lucrative television and sponsorship deals in Central and South America. Most of the defendants are from this region.

World Cup

World Cup bids also face mounting scrutiny however.

South Africa has strongly denied paying a bribe to secure the 2010 World Cup. But Fifa backed suspicions raised by US investigators.

The claim says executive committee members — including Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago and Charles Blazer of the United States “sold their votes on multiple occasions”.

Jack Warner. Source: AP/Press Association Images

It said that Warner, who is fighting extradition to the United States, Blazer, who has made a plea deal with US authorities, and admitted his crimes and pleaded guilty, Warner’s son Daryan Warner and other unidentified suspects “engineered a US$10 million payoff in exchange for executive committee votes regarding where the 2010 Fifa World Cup would be hosted”.

“They disguised and funnelled the bribe money through the financial accounts of Fifa, member associations, and the 2010 Fifa World Cup local organising committee.”

It also told how Warner sold votes for the 2011 Fifa presidential election to Qatari official Mohamed bin Hammam, who has since been banned for life.

Since the scandal erupted, Fifa has passed reforms controlling the powers of the executive committee and its members.

However, experts have expressed doubts on whether the changes will be enough to end misconduct.

© AFP 2016

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