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FIFA Admits World Cups Awarded Based on Bribes, Wants Money Back

This took guts.

You don't get to be the leading organization for world soccer without having Bill Brasky-sized balls. In a letter sent to the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York, newly elected FIFA president Gianni Infantino requested investigators returns "tens of millions of dollars" previously seized from FIFA officials who secured votes for past World Cup hosts in return for the cash. Despite being the single most influential organization in soccer—making these bribes possible, if not commonplace—with a new president comes a new narrative: FIFA is the victim here.


In the letter, Infantino wrote, "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." It's a nice shift and pivot, however absurd it may read. The Associated Press has seen the letter and reports FIFA is requesting the following:

— $28.2 million for years of payments, including bonuses, flights and daily expenses, to officials it now says are corrupt
— $10 million for the "theft" of money that FIFA officials transferred as bribes to then-executive committee members to vote for South Africa as 2010 World Cup host
— "substantial" cost of legal bills since separate U.S. and Swiss federal probes of corruption in international soccer were revealed last May
— damages for harm to its reputation, plus other bribes and kickbacks for media rights to non-FIFA competitions but "which were made possible because of the value of the FIFA brand"

Those last two are truly remarkable. This would be like claiming your own tongue damaged your reputation because it formed words and sounds whenever you used it, and then demanding your tongue also pay your legal fees.

The letter, and pending investigation, is directed primarily at the North and South American confederations—CONCACAF and CONMEBOL, respectively—and FIFA flagged specific dollar amounts sent to Chuck Blazer (over $5.3 million) and former vice president Jack Warner ($4.4 million) as requiring restitution. The letter continues, "FIFA has become notable for the defendants' bribery and corruption, not its many good works. FIFA is entitled to restitution for this harm to its business relationships, reputation and intangible property."


[Associated Press]