World football’s battered and bruised governing body FIFA has started a fightback in the corruption crisis by attempting to recoup tens of millions of dollars in damages.
FIFA, in its position as a ‘victimized institution’ robbed by crooked football officials, put in an official Request for Restitution to the US Attorney’s office in New York looking to reclaim over $28million for starters.
They are chasing the return of the salaries, expenses and bonuses from those 41 ‘corrupt’ FIFA members and other football officials during their tenure in Zurich as well as the huge legal fees involved in cleaning up the organization.
The figure could rise to over $100m as the investigations by the US and Swiss authorities plus FIFA’s own-in house probe uncover more wrong-doing.
FIFA also wants compensation from those accused for the damages their illegal actions have caused to FIFA’s brand, reputation and business relationships.
Those named in the documents include some of FIFA’s biggest rogues such as Jack Warner, Chuck Blazer and Jeffrey Webb plus Warner’s sons Daryan and Daryll.
The Request papers also see FIFA admit for the first time that South Africa’s $10m payment to Warner and Blazer was a bribe for World Cup votes in 2010.
Also enclosed in the file bound for the Brooklyn office of UA Attorney General Loretta Lynch are media reports of former CONCACAF President Webb, once regarded as Sepp Blatter’s heir apparent, staging a lavish champagne party for his wife’s 40th birthday at his Georgian mansion – bought with ill-gotten FIFA money also used to install a swimming pool – while on house arrest there.
Legal sources close to FIFA are confident their move will be successful.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino said: “The convicted defendants abused the positions of trust they held at FIFA and other international football organizations and caused serious and lasting damage to FIFA, its member associations and the football community.”
The 22-page request states: “Over many years the Defendants grossly abused positions of trust to enrich themselves while causing significant harm to FIFA including huge financial loses.
“The damage done by the defendants’ greed cannot be overstated. Their actions have deeply tarnished the FIFA brand. They did violence to FIFA’s principles.
“They looked to ways to line their own pockets and siphon off opportunities. They sold the power of their positions taking bribes and kickbacks in return for selling valuable marketing rights.”
In the most damning admission yet about the scale of FIFA’s corruption culture, the report said: ‘It is now apparent that multiple members of FIFA ExCo abused their positions and sold their votes on multiple occasions.’
Accused are Warner and son Daryan plus Blazer who all ‘engineered’ a $10m payment from the South Africans. Warner, who is still fighting extradition to the US from his Trinidad home, also accepted a bribe for his 1998 World Cup vote from the Moroccan bid committee.
And it’s claimed after Warner resigned all his football positions in 2011, Webb picked up where Warner left in taking bribes and kickbacks for World Cup qualifying TV rights .
Infantino added: “The defendants diverted this money not just from FIFA, but from players, coaches and fans worldwide. These dollars were meant to build football fields, not mansions and pools; to buy football kits, not jewelry and cars and to fund youth players and coach development, not to underwrite lavish lifestyles for football and sports marketing executives.
“When FIFA recovers this money, it will be directed back to its original purpose: for the benefit and development of international football.’”