Investigations made by US Prosecutors have revealed details of alleged bribes paid to FIFA executive committee members to gain their votes for Russia and Qatar to secure hosting rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup respectively.
The United States Department of Justice on April 6 provided details about money paid to some members of FIFA’s top board ahead of the 2010 vote to choose Russia and Qatar as hosts.
The indictment says Nicolas Leoz, then President of South American governing body CONMEBOL and former Brazil Federation President, Ricardo Teixeira received bribes to vote for Qatar at the 2010 FIFA executive committee meeting.
Also, Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago, President of the North and Central American and Caribbean governing body CONCACAF, received $5m in bribes to vote for Russia to host in 2018 from 10 different shell companies that included entities in Anguilla, Cyprus, and the British Virgin Islands. Guatemala Federation President Rafael Salguero was promised a $1m bribe to vote for Russia.
The executives were charged with several crimes, including wire fraud and money laundering, in connection with bribes to secure television and marketing rights for international soccer tournaments.
According to New York Times, none of the former soccer officials were immediately available for comment and officials at Russia’s soccer federation and FIFA did not reply to an email sent after business hours to request comments.
However, Qatar has denied allegations of acting improperly despite facing a slew of accusations since it started bidding for soccer’s biggest prize.
Qatar and Russia were named World Cup hosts on December 2 in 2010. Russia defeated England and joint bids from Holland-Belgium and Spain-Portugal to host the 2018 men’s tournament. Qatar, who spent billions of dollars to prepare for the 2022 World Cup, defeated the United States in a runoff by a group of voters that had already been trimmed because two members had been secretly filmed agreeing to sell their votes.
Allegations of corruption emerged soon after, with the two nations’ records on human rights also leading to criticism of the decisions.
Teixeira was handed a lifetime ban by the FIFA Ethics Committee last year after it found him guilty of ethics breaches.
The former Brazilian Federation President, who held that role from 1998 until he stepped down in 2012, has avoided extradition to the US despite being accused of wrongdoing in previous indictments.
Leoz, the President of CONMEBOL from 1986 to 2013, passed away last year at the age of 90.
He had been under house arrest in his native Paraguay since 2015 and was fighting extradition to the US.
Warner, formerly President of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), is already fighting extradition to the US.
He too has been banned from all football-related activity for life and CONCACAF was last year awarded $79 million (£63 million/€70 million) in a lawsuit against him and the late Chuck Blazer, who had been the organisation’s Secretary-General.
The Guatemalan Salguero – banned from FIFA for seven years in 2019 – has cooperated with investigators in the past and avoided a jail sentence in late 2018 after pleading guilty to criminal conspiracy, two counts of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and conspiracy to launder money.