FIFA bans former CONCACAF general secretary Sanz for life

The football world governing body FIFA imposed a lifetime ban on Enrique Sanz, a former general secretary of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), after finding him guilty of bribery.

Sanz worked under CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb during the period covered by the 2015 US federal indictment of football officials and their associates for widespread corruption schemes relating to competitions organised by FIFA, CONCACAF, the Caribbean Football Union and the South American Football Confederation.

US Department of Justice documents in a 2015 indictment identified Sanz as an unnamed co-conspirator, who prosecutors alleged had arranged and taken bribes linked to commercial deals for World Cup qualifying games and the 2016 Copa American centenary tournament. Prosecutors had also alleged that the Colombian allegedly was involved in bribery schemes when he worked for sports agency Traffic USA, before he joined CONCACAF in 2012 to oversee the organisation’s operations under Caymanian Webb. However, Sanz was never publicly charged.

According to federal court records, Webb and Sanz made public pronouncements about reforming CONCACAF, but almost immediately after taking office “both men resumed their involvement in criminal schemes”. Among other things, Webb is said to have directed Sanz to seek a bribe payment on his behalf from Traffic Sports USA during the negotiations for the Gold Cup 2013 and CONCACAF Champions League 2013-2015 tournaments.

According to the indictment, Webb allegedly instructed Sanz to submit a false invoice to Traffic USA for US$1.1 million to be paid to an account in the name of ‘Soccer Uniform Company A’ at Capital Bank in Panama City, Panama.

The adjudicatory chamber of FIFA’s ethics committee investigated Sanz’s participation in the negotiation of bribe payments in various bribery schemes from 2012 to 2015.

In its decision, the adjudicatory chamber found Sanz had breached FIFA’s Code of Ethics and imposed a fine of US$100,250 and a ban on his participation in any football-related activity at both national and international level.

Webb pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, three counts of wire fraud conspiracy and three counts of money laundering conspiracy in November 2015. He is under house arrest and still awaiting sentencing in the United States. His sentencing has been adjourned multiple times and is currently set for 10 March 2020.