2015 FIFA corruption case
FIFA corruption scandal summary; most controversial case that hits the football governing body which involve bribery, fraud and money laundering
FIFA scandal details
FIFA, the world football governing body, has been hit by controversies of corruption. The scandal erupted in May 7, 2015 with a raid on a luxury Hotel Baur au Lac in Switzerland’s capital which led to the arrest of seven FIFA officials.
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.
FIFA football officials charged
The defendants were charged with wire fraud, racketeering, and money laundering conspiracies. Following the arrest, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice said that some of the offences were agreed and planned in the USA. Transactions were also processed via US banks, the FOJ further said. And in December 2015, 16 more officials were charged following the apprehension of two FIFA vice-presidents at the very same hotel.
Former CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb was arrested on May 27, 2015 for corruption charges. He pleaded guilty to racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering and agreed to forfeit £4.4m. Mr. Webb did not contest his extradition to the United States and is believed to have given US investigators crucial information which led to the arrest of more officials and executives involved.
Former BBF (Brazil Football Federation) chief Ricardo Teixeira and the current Brazil FA president Marco Polo del Nero were among those implicated in criminal schemes involving millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks. The two are on a new 92-count indictment, which alleges wire fraud, racketeering, and money laundering conspiracies.
Others include former Colombia Football Federation chief Luis Bedoya and the former Chile Football Federation chief Sergio Jadue. The two pleaded guilty to money laundering, wire fraud and racketeering. Alfredo Hawit of Honduras, the former president of Concacaf was also among those charged with corruption, although he has been denying any wrong doing.
FIFA allegations of corruptions
Alfredo Hawit was FIFA’s Vice President and member of FIFA’s executive committee. Mr. Hawit, 64, who was transferred to the US in January 2016 from Switzerland after his arrest, pleaded not guilty to 12 charges including wire fraud conspiracy, and money laundering.
US prosecutors claimed that Hawit laundered millions of dollars in bribes when he was a general secretary of Honduran soccer federation between 2008 and 2014. His defence team requested magistrate judge Robert Levy to place him under house arrest. Magistrate Levy rejected this request but said that the court may reconsider if Hawit should deposit a "large amount" of cash.
Former FIFA’s Vice-President Jack Warner was also implicated in corruption allegations. The Trinidad national turned himself in after an arrest warrant was issued against him. Warner is charged with stealing money meant for poor countries in the North, Central America as well as Caribbean confederation.
Warner, who is fighting extradition to the US from Trinidad, is said to have diverted more than £500,000 intended for Haiti earthquake victims. In September 2015, governing body’s ethics committee banned him for life, four years after quitting football. The ethics committee had previously opted not to pursue him because he was no longer involved in football.
After years of alleged wrongdoing, FIFA president Joseph “Sepp” Blatter and Michel Platini, the UEFA president, were made the subject of Switzerland’s criminal investigation in September 2015. Their case was heard by FIFA ethics committee last week and they were found guilty of all the charges levelled against them.
FIFA football officials banned and fined
Sepp Blatter was banned for eight years by the FIFA ethics committee for an "abusive execution" of his position. He was also fined around $50,000. Blatter, 79, was found guilty of breaches surrounding £1.3m disloyal payment made to Michelle Platini in 2011.
Michel Platini was also banned for eight years and was ordered to pay a fine of around $80,000 over an alleged £1.3m disloyal payment that he received in 2011.
Since the arrest started in May 2015, more than 39 football officials and sports business executives from different countries have been brought to book. Following the 2015 FIFA corruption case, it is being suggested that FIFA’s reputation has been badly tarnished beyond repair and that FIFA needs to start afresh.
2014 World Cup investigation
The FBI is also investigating the 2014 FIFA World Cup for anomalies and briberies involving the arrested officials. There has been pressure from world governments as well as the International Olympic Committee for FIFA to push through major reforms in order to make future governance more accountable and transparent. It remains to be seen what action FIFA will take to rebuild its damaged reputation.