The recognized governing body that governs association football, beach soccer and futsal, FIFA was once again under investigation of its officials and associates. The FIFA corruption case that was disclosed by US federal prosecutors in early 2015 has provoked much speculation as well as intense investigation of FIFA officials in many other countries.
The cases of corruption resulted in fourteen men being indicted in May 2015 by the US FBI (federal bureau of investigation) and IRS-CI (internal revenue service-criminal investigation division). These accusations on wire fraud, money laundering and racketeering were released by the US attorney general alongside guilty pleas by 2 corporations and 4 FIFA executive officials.
Who are involved?
The FIFA corruption case investigations mainly involved complicities between top officials of CONMEBOL (South America) and CONCACAF (Caribbean, Central and North America) both which are continental football bodies. It also inclined sports marketing executives who hold marketing and media rights for top profile competitions like Copa America, CONCACAF Gold Cup and FIFA World Cup among other international tournaments. The investigation led to the arrest of Jeffrey Webb (CONCACAF president), Eduardo Li and Eugenio Figueredo (both FIFA executive committee members) and Nicolas Leoz (former CONMEBOL president).
This investigation has lasted many years considering the first arrest of Daryll (Warner’s son) was made back in 2013. On May 27th 2015, seven sitting FIFA officials were arrested. They were at the Baur au Lac hotel found in Zürich waiting to attend the 65th FIFA congress which was to involve the election of FIFA president.
The arrested officials are to be transferred to United States as they are suspected to have received a total sum of $150 million in bribes. The 27th May arrests also triggered other investigation raids in Miami resulting in two more arrests. Jack Warner (former CONCACAF president) and Alejandro Burzaco (marketing executive) submitted themselves to the police department at their own will.
The FIFA corruption case involved allegations of bribery, money laundering and fraud to influence (corrupt) the issuance of marketing and media rights for FIFA games. The allegations were on America games and estimated at $150 million where $110 million was said to have been issued in bribery for the 2016 Copa America Centenario. The Brooklyn US district court also handed accusations that included an attempt to use bribery to influence the process of selecting 2010 FIFA World Cup host, president of FIFA election and sponsorship contracts.
Additionally, an unnamed sports equipment provider (which some sources have identified as Nike Inc.) was accused of paying at least $40 million to become the only company providing footwear, uniforms, equipment and accessories for the Brazilian National team.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup was the center of much investigation although the unraveling details have now prompted the FBI to also investigate the 2014 World Cup tournament. When the FIFA corruption case was opened, a report said that Jerome Valcke (former secretary of FIFA) had transferred FIFA’s $10 million to an account controlled by Jack Warner in 2008. The money had been donated to FIFA by the president of SAFA (South African Football Association) Danny Jordaan. This payment was meant to support Caribbean Football but ended up in Warner’s hands.
The report claimed that Warner used $1.6 million to pay his personal loans and $360,000 more was withdrawn by people related to him. Additionally, he gave his Trinidadian Supermarket Chain (JTA) a total sum of $4.86 million from the FIFA payment. This specific transfer is a key evidence that the US prosecutors us to induct Warner as taking bribe to help South Africa secure the Host of 2010 FIFA World Cup.
The FIFA corruption case is one that stretches many years back and many speculations have surrounded the investigations. Back in 2011, Al-Majid Phaedra, who was part of the team that successfully secured Qatari as the 2022 World Cup host, blasted the scenes with new allegations. She claimed Qatari has used a total sum of $1.5 million to bribe Issa Hayatou (president American Football Confederation), Jacques Anouma (FIFA member Ivory Coast) and Amos Adamu (suspended Nigeria official) to vote for Qatari.
Although Phaedra initially claimed she had made these allegations for media attention, she later confessed that she was coerced into withdrawing from the case and feared for her safety. She was later put under FBI protective custody in June 2015. João Havelange (FIFA president) and Ricardo Teixeira (president Brazilian Football Confederation) were also found to have taken millions in bribe in 2013. Many FIFA officials have been implicated in various corruption cases and investigations are currently ongoing even as more arrests and self submissions are witnessed.