World Cup: Former FIFA officials accused of taking bribes
According to US prosecutors, former FIFA executives took bribes in return for voting for Russia and Qatar to host the World Cup. In what could be a highly significant twist in the FBI's long-running investigation into allegations of football corruption, a new indictment was revealed in the US District Court. Here are further details.
According to a report in the BBC, the documents claim several former FIFA executive committee members "were offered or received bribes in connection with their votes". The Department of Justice made allegations against former CONMEBOL president Nicolas Leoz and ex-Brazil federation chief Ricardo Teixeira. Both are accused of taking money "in exchange for their votes in favor of Qatar to host the World Cup".
Leoz passed away last year under house arrest in his native Paraguay. Teixeira was banned from the game for life by FIFA for taking bribes for marketing and media rights for football competitions between 2006 and 2012. Meanwhile, Teixeira and Warner, who is also banned for life, have avoided extradition to the US. Salguero was banned last year after admitting to corrupt means.
Disgraced former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago was also allegedly paid £4m through a host of offshore shell companies to back Russia's 2018 World Cup bid. Meanwhile, Guatemala football chief Rafael Salguero was allegedly promised a bribe to vote for Russia.
"The profiteering and bribery in international soccer have been deep-seated and commonly known practices for decades," said FBI assistant director-in-charge William Sweeney, as per the BBC. "The FBI... are investigating the illicit handshakes and backroom deals hidden in the infrastructure of soccer events, venues and marketing contracts. The first public charges date back to 2015."
It was in 2015, where a dramatic dawn raid at a Zurich hotel close to the governing body's headquarters, the US Department of Justice announced it was investigating football. The scandal sparked the worst crisis in FIFA's history. Former disgraced president Sepp Blatter had to stand aside. Meanwhile, a total of 42 people have been indicted, with 26 pleading guilty.