FIFA seeks millions from defendants named in US investigation
FIFA today submitted documents to the US authorities in an effort to reclaim tens of millions of dollars pocketed illegally by corrupt FIFA members and other football officials (see SA relevant extract below).
In its capacity as a “victimised institution”, FIFA has submitted a Request for Restitution to the US Attorney’s Office and the US Probation Office for the Eastern District of New York, claiming damages from 41 former FIFA officials and other football organisations, including Chuck Blazer, Jack Warner, Jeffrey Webb and others who have been indicted in the ongoing investigation by the US Department of Justice.
“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. 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,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
FIFA 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. The US government has already announced forfeiture amounts that should cover FIFA’s claims for damages.
FIFA is seeking restitution for the money the defendants pocketed to enrich themselves, but also for the salaries, benefits and bonuses that were paid to them during their tenure at FIFA and other football organisations. FIFA is also seeking money from the defendants for the damage their actions caused to FIFA’s brand and reputation, its intellectual property and its business relationships.
“The defendants diverted this money not just from FIFA but from players, coaches and fans worldwide who benefit from the programmes that FIFA runs to develop and promote football. These dollars were meant to build football fields, not mansions and pools; to buy football kits, not jewellery and cars; and to fund youth player 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,” said Infantino.
 US Department of Justice, Superseding Indictment, 25 November 2015, p. 39.
 FIFA is entitled to restitution under the Mandatory Restitution to Victims Act, 18 U.S.C. 3663A et seq.
Statement issued by FIFA, 16 March 2016
Extract from FIFA’s court submission:
It is now apparent that multiple members of FIFA’s Executive Committee abused their positions and sold their votes on multiple occasions. As the Grand Jury alleged in the Superseding Indictment in United States v. Hawit, 15-cr-252 (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 25, 2015), Dkt. No. 102, Defendant Jack Warner, together with his co-conspirators Charles Blazer (who has admitted his crimes and pleaded guilty), Defendant Warner’s son Daryan Warner, and other coconspirators not named in the Superseding Indictment, engineered a $10 million payoff in exchange for Executive Committee votes regarding where the 2010 FIFA World CupTM would be hosted.
The scheme built off Defendant Warner’s corrupt vote in 1992 for Morocco to host the 1998 FIFA World CupTM, when he accepted a bribe from the Moroccan bid committee in exchange for his vote for Morocco. Twelve years later, the Morocco bid committee once again offered Defendant Warner and Charles Blazer (who now also had a vote as an Executive Committee member) a bribe, this time of $1 million.
But Defendant Warner and his family had already established close ties to South Africa during South Africa’s failed bid to host the 2006 FIFA World CupTM. For example, Daryan Warner had organized a series of friendly matches among CONCACAF teams to be played in South Africa, relying on his father’s network of contacts there. Daryan Warner had also served as his father’s bagman, traveling to a hotel in Paris, France to receive a briefcase with $10,000 in cash from a high-ranking South African bid committee official and immediately returning to Trinidad and Tobago to give it to Defendant Warner.
Ultimately, given Defendant Warner’s strong illicit ties to the South African bid committee, the South Africans offered a more attractive bribe of $10 million in exchange for 11 Warner’s, Blazer’s, and a third Executive Committee member’s votes. Warner and his coconspirators lied to FIFA about the nature of the payment, disguising it as support for the benefit of the “African Diaspora” in the Caribbean region, when in reality it was a bribe.
They disguised and funneled the bribe money through the financial accounts of FIFA, member associations, and the 2010 FIFA World CupTM local organizing committee. At the time of the scheme, Warner was a member of the FIFA Executive Committee, a FIFA vice president, and the president of both CONCACAF and the Caribbean Football Union (“CFU”), which had 31 member associations in its ranks.
Blazer was also a member of FIFA’s Executive Committee, at times a member of FIFA’s marketing and television committees, and the general secretary of CONCACAF. They breached the fundamental duties they owed to FIFA, CFU, and CONCACAF and stole $10 million.