World football governing body FIFA is suing its corrupt former executives, including Cayman’s Jeffrey Webb, in an attempt to claim “tens of millions of dollars” in damages.
The association filed papers in a New York court this week claiming that $190 million in assets forfeited by the 41 individuals indicted in an ongoing corruption probe should be used to compensate victims, principally FIFA itself.
It is also seeking to recover salaries and benefits paid to the indicted executives, including just over $2 million from Webb, who has admitted his role in the bribery and kickback scam.
The court documents outline some of the criminal charges against former FIFA officials, including detailing how Webb and his attaché Costas Takkas negotiated a $3 million bribe from sports marketing company Traffic for marketing rights to World Cup qualifiers in the Caribbean.
Webb’s cut, it states, found its way to bank accounts in Georgia to enable him to “purchase a small mansion and install a swimming pool.”
Largely drawn from details in the U.S. Department of Justice indictment, the lawsuit includes an acknowledgment from FIFA that officials sold their votes in World Cup bidding contests and that former CONCACAF boss Jack Warner, his general secretary Chuck Blazer and others were paid a $10 million bribe to vote for South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup.
FIFA says its reputation and business relationships, as well as its bank balance, have been damaged by the actions of its former executives and their associates. It is seeking the return of funds diverted from the organization.
Following the release of the victim statement and request for restitution on Wednesday, the organization’s new president Gianni Infantino said, “These dollars were meant to build football fields, not mansions and pools; to buy football kits, not jewelry and cars; and to fund youth player and coach development, not to underwrite lavish lifestyles for football and sports marketing executives.”
He added that the convicted defendants had abused positions of trust 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.”
The lawsuit states that the corrupt officials’ schemes exploited the efforts by FIFA over the years to promote international football and translate the game’s popularity into a commercial success.
“Together, the defendants misappropriated FIFA’s resources, its brand, and its commercial value to enlarge their own bank accounts. Their schemes were simplistic, but many in nature. In essence, they betrayed their duties and sold their powers to the highest bidder. Multiple indictments have now been returned that demonstrate varying schemes. Each one of them harmed FIFA, its member associations, the continental confederations, and the game of football.”
The lawsuit contains what is understood to be the first public admission from FIFA that some members of its executive committee regularly sold their votes, manipulating the bidding process that decided the host nations for World Cup tournaments.
The court documents outline how Trinidadian football official Warner, American Blazer and other co-conspirators secured a $10 million payment in connection with the South African bid to host the 2010 World Cup.
“Warner and his co-conspirators 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,” it states.