FIFA says members sold World Cup votes multiple times

World football’s governing body files for compensation in US as a victim of corruption by former officials.

Gianni Infantino, the new FIFA chief, said the money was meant for the development of the game [Ennio Leanza/Keystone via AP]

FIFA has admitted that its executive committee members sold World Cup votes on numerous occasions in a legal document submitted to United States authorities.

In a 22-page statement issued on Wednesday, world football’s governing body said that it has filed for compensation in the US as a victim of corruption by its former officials, seeking a big share in restitution from more than $190m already forfeited by football and marketing officials who pleaded guilty in the sprawling corruption case.

“It is now apparent that multiple members of FIFA’s Executive Committee abused their positions and sold their votes on multiple occasions,” FIFA said in a court document.

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FIFA said it estimates that tens of millions of dollars were “diverted from the football community illegally through bribery, kickbacks and corrupt schemes”.

The court proceedings seek to have money returned from 41 former FIFA officials including former executive committee members Chuck Blazer, Jack Warner and others who have been indicted in an 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,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in the statement.

“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 AP news agency has reported that FIFA is seeking $28.2m for years of payments, $10m for the “theft” of money in connection with the 2010 World Cup as well as “substantial” cost of legal bills and damages for harm to the organisation’s reputation.

Most of the already-seized money – $151.7m – will come from Brazilian marketing executive Jose Hawilla, whose group of agencies were heavily involved with matches CONCACAF and CONMEBOL controlled but not FIFA directly.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies