2015 FIFA corruption case
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In May 2015, fourteen people were indicted in connection with an investigation by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) into wire fraud, racketeering, and money laundering. The investigation mostly revolved around collusion between officials of continental association football bodies CONMEBOL (South America) and CONCACAF (Caribbean, Central and North America), and sports marketing executives. The sports marketing executives were holders of media and marketing rights for high-profile international competitions including the Americas' FIFA World Cup qualifying tournaments, and showpiece tournaments CONCACAF Gold Cup and Copa América.
CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb, also serving president of the Cayman Islands Football Association, was arrested in connection with the investigation, as were two sitting FIFA Executive Committee members: Eduardo Li of the Costa Rican Football Federation and Eugenio Figueredo, formerly of the Uruguayan Football Association and a former CONMEBOL president. Former CONMEBOL President Nicolás Leoz and CONCACAF President Jack Warner were also arrested. The investigation lasted several years, with the first arrest, of Warner's son Daryll, made in July 2013.
In total, seven current FIFA officials were arrested at the Hotel Baur au Lac in Zürich on May 27. They were preparing to attend the 65th FIFA Congress, which was scheduled to include the election of the president of FIFA. They are expected to be extradited to the United States on suspicion of receiving US$150 million in bribes. There was also a simultaneous raid on the CONCACAF headquarters in Miami. The case has triggered Australia, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Switzerland to open or intensify separate criminal investigations into top FIFA officials for corruption.
- 1 Allegations
- 2 Indicted individuals and corporations
- 3 Swiss criminal inquiry into 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups
- 4 Aftermath
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The arrests center on the alleged use of bribery, fraud and money laundering to corrupt the issuing of media and marketing rights for FIFA games in the Americas, estimated at $150 million, including at least $110 million in bribes related to the Copa América Centenario to be hosted in 2016 in the United States. In addition, the indictment handed down by the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, New York, alleges that bribery was used in an attempt to influence clothing sponsorship contracts, the selection process for the 2010 FIFA World Cup host, and the 2011 FIFA presidential election. Specifically, an unnamed sports equipment company – identified in multiple sources as Nike, Inc. – is alleged to have paid at least $40 million in bribes to become the sole provider of uniforms, footwear, accessories, and equipment to the Brazil national team.
In 2011, American soccer executive and CONCACAF official Chuck Blazer pleaded guilty to 10 criminal charges including wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering, and offenses involving income tax and banking. Blazer's guilty plea had aimed to stave off a more serious charge of racketeering, which carried a potential 20-year prison sentence. Blazer would later make secret recordings of meetings with FIFA officials, and allegedly carried a recording device concealed in a key ring during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. He had originally been approached by agents from the United States Internal Revenue Service and the FBI who had assembled specific allegations of his involvement in bribery during the bidding process for host countries for the FIFA World Cups from the early 1990s onwards. The information against Blazer (the charging document used in lieu of an indictment for a plea bargain) was revealed on May 27, 2015, the same day that the arrests were made in Zurich.
In May 2011, The Sunday Times published claims from a whistle-blower that President of CAF Issa Hayatou had, along with fellow Executive Committee member Jacques Anouma, accepted $1.5 million bribes from Qatar to secure his support for their bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
In 2013, former FIFA President João Havelange and the Brazilian Football Confederation President Ricardo Teixeira were both found to have taken bribes worth millions of dollars. FIFA executive committee member Manilal Fernando was sanctioned with a lifetime ban for bribery and corruption.
Indicted individuals and corporations
|Blazer, ChuckChuck Blazer||23x15px United States||Former General Secretary of CONCACAF||Guilty plea|
|Burzaco, AlejandroAlejandro Burzaco||23x15px Argentina||CEO of Torneos y Competencias||Indicted|
|Davidson, AaronAaron Davidson||23x15px United States||Chairman of the Board of Governors of the North American Soccer League and President of Traffic Sports USA||Indicted|
|Esquivel, RafaelRafael Esquivel||23x15px Venezuela||President of the Venezuelan Football Federation and member of the CONMEBOL executive committee||Arrested|
|Figueredo, EugenioEugenio Figueredo||23x15px Uruguay||FIFA Vice President, former President of the Uruguayan Football Association, and former President of CONMEBOL||Arrested|
|Hawilla, JoséJosé Hawilla||23x15px Brazil||Owner and founder of Traffic Group||Guilty plea|
|Jinkis, HugoHugo Jinkis||23x15px Argentina||President of Full Play Group||Indicted|
|Jinkis, MarianoMariano Jinkis||23x15px Argentina||Vice-President of Full Play Group S.A.; son of Hugo Jinkis||Indicted|
|Leoz, NicolásNicolás Leoz|| 23x15px Paraguay /
|Former President of CONMEBOL||Indicted|
|Li, EduardoEduardo Li||23x15px Costa Rica||President of the Costa Rican Football Federation, member-elect of the FIFA executive committee, and member of the CONCACAF executive committee||Arrested|
|Marguiles, JoséJosé Marguiles||23x15px Brazil||Secretary-General of Traffic Sports Brazil||Indicted|
|Marin, José MariaJosé Maria Marin||23x15px Brazil||Former President of the Brazilian Football Confederation and former Governor of São Paulo||Arrested|
|Rocha Lopez, JulioJulio Rocha Lopez||23x15px Nicaragua||President of the Nicaraguan Football Federation, FIFA development officer, and former President of the Central American Football Union||Arrested|
|Takkas, CostasCostas Takkas||23x15px Cayman Islands||Former General Secretary of the Cayman Islands Football Association and Attaché to the CONCACAF President||Arrested|
|Warner, DaryanDaryan Warner|| 23x15px Trinidad and Tobago /
|Son of Jack Warner||Guilty plea|
|Warner, DaryllDaryll Warner|| 23x15px Trinidad and Tobago /
23x15px United States
|Son of Jack Warner and former FIFA development officer||Guilty plea|
|Warner, JackJack Warner||23x15px Trinidad and Tobago||Former Vice President of FIFA, former President of CONCACAF, and former Minister of National Security||Arrested|
|Webb, JeffreyJeffrey Webb||23x15px Cayman Islands||President of CONCACAF, President of the Cayman Islands Football Association, and FIFA Vice President||Arrested|
|Traffic Sports International||23x15px British Virgin Islands||Football events management company and subsidiary of Traffic Group||Guilty plea|
|Traffic Sports USA||23x15px United States||Soccer events management company and subsidiary of Traffic Group||Guilty plea|
Swiss criminal inquiry into 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups
A copy of a report commissioned by FIFA by the United States attorney Michael J. Garcia into the bidding processes behind the awarding of the 2018 FIFA World Cup to Russia and the 2022 FIFA World Cup to Qatar was made available to the Attorney General of Switzerland in November 2014 by FIFA who said in a statement that there were "grounds for suspicion that, in isolated cases, international transfers of assets with connections to Switzerland took place, which merit examination by the criminal prosecution authorities".
Sepp Blatter has been president of FIFA since 1998. The Guardian said that FIFA's actions would "... inevitably be viewed with cynicism given Blatter's track record of using the Swiss courts and FIFA's regulatory processes to kick problematic issues into the long grass and deflect attention onto individuals who have already left football".
In May 2015, on the same day as the arrests resulting from the FBI's investigation and in a separate action, the Swiss prosecuting authorities launched a criminal inquiry on "suspicion of criminal mismanagement and of money laundering" concerning the 2018 and 2022 bidding processes. The Swiss authorities seized "electronic data and documents" in a raid on FIFA's Zürich headquarters. The Swiss police also planned to question ten members of the FIFA Executive Committee who participated in the December 2010 votes that chose the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 world cups.
- 23x15px Brazil – Senator and former Brazilian footballer Romário stated that "unfortunately, it wasn't our police that arrested them, but someone had to eventually arrest them one day". He has been an outspoken critic of the alleged corruption of FIFA.
- 23x15px Colombia – The Office of the Attorney General of Colombia, through diplomatic cables, requested access to the investigation files in order to determine if any Colombian nationals are linked to the irregularities of FIFA, and also offered to aid the investigations if requested by United States prosecutors. In recent times, Colombia was selected by the FIFA to host the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup and the FIFA Futsal World Cup which is to take place in 2016.
- 23x15px Costa Rica – The Attorney General of Costa Rica opened a money laundering probe on Eduardo Li, stating that "even though most of the events took place outside of Costa Rica, it is our responsibility to follow up on that and find out if any crimes were committed here".
- 23x15px Germany – Justice Minister Heiko Maas requested a full investigation on FIFA and stated that "it is clear that FIFA is not above the law either and that the accusations must be investigated. I think every football fan has a right to know that corruption in football and in international football has no room".
- 23x15px Paraguay – The Foreign Ministry of Paraguay announced that they received an extradition request from the United States for Nicolás Leoz, and that they will forward the request to the Supreme Court of Justice for a further review.
- 23x15px Russia – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation condemned the arrest, stating: "Without going into details about the charges that have been brought up, we point to the fact that this is another case of the illegal extraterritorial application of U.S. laws … Once again, we urge Washington to stop trying to set itself up as a judge far outside its borders and to follow the generally accepted international legal procedures".
- 23x16px Switzerland – Ueli Maurer, a member of the Swiss Federal Council, spoke at the opening of the FIFA Congress where he emphasized that Switzerland condemns any form of corruption. On May 28, Maurer also said that FIFA is out of balance and in a need for action to restore its credibility. Calling for reform, he refused to scapegoat Blatter reminding some of his achievements for youth in football.
- 23x15px United Kingdom – The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport of the United Kingdom, John Whittingdale, stated that he fully supported The Football Association's position "that significant and wide-ranging reforms are urgently needed at the very top of FIFA, including a change in its leadership". Prime Minister David Cameron also backed calls for Blatter to quit as President of FIFA stating "You cannot have accusations of corruption at this level and on this scale in this organisation and pretend that the person currently leading it is the right person to take it forward. That cannot be the case. Frankly, what we've seen is the ugly side of the beautiful game and he should go. And the sooner that happens the better - the faster that organisation can start to rebuild its credibility, which is going to be so important because so many people around the world want to see this game properly managed, properly looked after, so we can all enjoy the World Cups of the future."
- Continental football organisations
- CONCACAF (North America, Central America and Caribbean) – This Confederation stated that "The Confederation of North, Central America and the Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) is deeply concerned by today’s developments, in the arrest of several international football officials including those belonging to our Confederation. The Confederation will continue to cooperate with the authorities to its fullest capacity. At present, CONCACAF is not in a position to comment further on the specific allegations, which have been referred to the appropriate legal counsel through the pertinent channels. CONCACAF continues to operate in the ordinary course of business, hosting all of its upcoming tournaments in a successful and timely manner, including the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup"
- Asian Football Confederation (Asia) – The Asian Football Confederation stated that it is "against any form of corruption in football and fully supports any actions taken by the independent FIFA Ethics Committee where wrongdoing may have occurred, whether such actions affect Asian officials or otherwise." Moreover, it opposed postponing the FIFA congress and reiterated its support for Blatter.
- CONMEBOL (South America) – CONMEBOL issued a resolution to "repudiate all acts of corruption, and unreservedly support the investigations initiated toward FIFA, CONMEBOL, CONCACAF, and other organizations regarding alleged wrongdoing," and "will agree to collaborate openly and emphatically with such investigations."
- UEFA (Europe) – The Union of European Football Associations stated "[t]hese events show, once again, that corruption is deeply rooted in FIFA's culture. There is a need for the whole of FIFA to be 'rebooted' and for a real reform to be carried out." UEFA president Michel Platini explicitly demanded Blatter to step down before his re-election.
- National football federations
- 23x15px Costa Rica – Rodolfo Villalobos, the next in line for the presidency of the Costa Rican Football Federation, and with the backing of its other boardmembers, announced that he would not vote for Blatter as a result of the ongoing revelations.
- 23x15px England – David Gill, as the newly elected British FIFA Vice-President and FIFA Executive Committee board member, threatened to resign his role if Sepp Blatter was re-elected as FIFA President for a fifth term in protest at his leadership following the corruption scandal. Blatter was re-elected, and Gill immediately rejected his position in protest, saying "I simply do not see how there will be change for the good of world football while Mr Blatter remains in post."
- 23x15px Guinea-Bissau – Manuel Nascimento Lopes, the president of the Federação de Futebol da Guiné-Bissau said that "I'm a Christian and this is blasphemy" in response to people blaming Blatter for the actions of other people. Lopes also said that "It's a state conspiracy. People are always trying to knock Blatter. Africa will vote for Mr Blatter and I will follow that. I agree at some point there has to be change but let Blatter finish his mandate and see what he does."
- 23x15px South Africa – Danny Jordaan, the head of South African Football Association admitted to paying $10 Million to a football body led by Jack Warner in 2008, but denied that it was a bribe for hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
The North American Soccer League Board of Governors suspended Chairperson Aaron Davidson and business relations with Traffic Sports. Carolina RailHawks, a team owned by Traffic Sports, was allowed to "continue to operate in the ordinary course of business".
On May 29, Sepp Blatter won re-election to the FIFA presidency at the subsequent 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich amid growing criticism over his position. However, he announced his resignation from the presidency two days later. Blatter will continue to serve until a new election is conducted at an Extraordinary FIFA Congress.
Jack Warner's self-defense video
2002 World Cup
- Andrew Jennings, investigative journalist, who looked into IOC and FIFA corruption
- "FIFA's Dirty Secrets", BBC's Panorama documentary on FIFA corruption
- International Sport and Leisure, a defunct sports marketing company
- 2015 Greek football scandal
- "FIFA Indictments". Retrieved May 28, 2015.
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- concacaf.com CONCACAF Statement
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- "Press release to the general public". conmebol.com. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- "UEFA shows this FIFA the red card". UEFA.com. May 27, 2015. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
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- "NASL STATEMENT ON U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE INVESTIGATION". NASL.com. May 27, 2015. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- "Sepp Blatter to Resign as FIFA President". The New York Times. 2 June 2015. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
- United States of America v. Jeffrey Webb, Eduardo Li, Julio Rocha, Costas Takkas, Jack Warner, Eugenio Figueredo, Rafael Esquivel, Jose Maria Marin, Nicolas Leoz, Alejandro Burzaco, Aaron Davidson, Hugo Jinkis, Mariano Jinkis, and Jose Margulies, aka Jose Lazaro, F.#2015R00747 (U.S. District Court - Brooklyn Office May 20, 2015)