FIFA bribery scandal: We want our money back, says FIFA chief

Football's governing body claims it's a victim of corruption and starts legal battle to recoup tens of millions of dollars from 'sordid' officials, who have been indicted by US over mass bribery

Zurich: FIFA, yesterday, demanded tens of millions of dollars in damages from the "sordid" officials now facing charges in the United States over mass bribery scandals that have rocked world football.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino at a press conference in Cardiff, Wales, recently. Pic/AFP
FIFA president Gianni Infantino at a press conference in Cardiff, Wales, recently. Pic/AFP

World football is at the centre of inquiries into bribery. On top of 39 individuals facing charges seven in the United States over more than $200 million in bribes.

Widespread graft
FIFA acknowledged the widespread graft of recent decades in its most explicit manner yet. It 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."

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."

Chuck Blazer (left) Jeffrey Webb and Jack Warner (right)
Chuck Blazer (left) Jeffrey Webb and Jack Warner (right)

It will seek money from the $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 $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 FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

"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," Infantino added.

The FIFA claim said the corrupt officials "betrayed their duties and sold their powers to the highest bidder."

FIFA suspect keeps up champagne lifestyle

New York: Jeffrey Webb, the disgraced former FIFA vice president, has kept up a millionaire lifestyle quaffing champagne, gambling and partying while under US house arrest, according to football's world body.

Yesterday, FIFA's American lawyers complained in a letter to the US attorney's office that Webb enjoys an "extravagant lifestyle" at a home he may have purchased "with bribes and kickbacks." According to reports, he recently hosted an expensive themed birthday party for his wife, replete with entertainment and gambling tables," the Washington DC law firm wrote.

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