Despite a mountain of evidence over the last year, FIFA has never admitted the votes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup’s were tainted. That changed on Tuesday though, as FIFA submitted a report to the U.S. Attorney’s office in New York.
In that report, FIFA admits for the first time that bribery took place in multiple World Cup votes. Why the change in stance? Let’s just say the almighty dollar may have a thing or two to do with it.
O.K., it has everything to do with it.
According to a BBC report, FIFA’s report was submitted because they are suing former FIFA officials Chuck Blazer, Jack Warner and Jeffrey Webb for “tens of millions of dollars.”
Yes, the organization that stuck its head in the sand over the obvious bribes and shady deals happening right in front of it is now seeking the very money that changed hands back. FIFA is seeking to gain back a huge share of the reported $190 million that has been forfeited by soccer and marketing officials caught up in charges to date.
Perhaps the most rich in all of this is FIFA’s assertion that they are a “victimized institution.”
New president Gianni Infantino also submitted a statement in regards to the return of money to the organization. He believes those convicted or facing charges “abused positions of trust,” and more:
“They caused serious and lasting damage to FIFA, its member associations and the football community. The monies they pocketed belonged to global football and were meant for the development and promotion of the game. 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.”
Given what is known at this point about the bribes and illegal payment schemes, it isn’t so crazy to believe FIFA has a big claim here. After all, most of the money exchanging hands was misdirected from FIFA payments to confederations or national organizations for development of the game or outright payment to players.
Infantino made his position well known:
“These dollars were meant to build football fields, not mansions and pools; to buy football kits, not jewelery and cars; and to fund youth player and coach development, not to underwrite lavish lifestyles for football and sports marketing executives. “
Instead, many of the convicted or named defendants pocketed the money or found ways to make further millions off the money they had access to thanks to their positions within FIFA’s hierarchy.
Per the Associated Press, FIFA is asking for very specific amounts to be returned given what is known from the trials, plea bargains and charges already put forth in the United States.
Here is FIFA is asking for:
— $28.2 million for years of payments, including bonuses, flights and daily expenses, to officials it now says are corrupt
— $10 million for the “theft” of money that FIFA officials transferred as bribes to then-executive committee members to vote for South Africa as 2010 World Cup host
— “substantial” cost of legal bills since separate U.S. and Swiss federal probes of corruption in international soccer were revealed last May
— damages for harm to its reputation, plus other bribes and kickbacks for media rights to non-FIFA competitions but “which were made possible because of the value of the FIFA brand”
What is clear in all of this is that FIFA is in a new era, and Infantino is making a bold statement about handling corruption within its organization. Rather than distancing itself from the scandals of the past year, Infantino’s FIFA is going to tackle the issue head on.