The 14 indictments announced in New York against officials and FIFA partners are “only the beginning,” said Wednesday the US authorities, denouncing years of corruption vitiating including the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 and the centenary of the Copa America next year.
“This is the beginning of our effort, not the end,” said Acting US Attorney in Brooklyn, Kelly Currie, at a press conference during which the American Justice Minister Loretta Lynch accused the officials and partners to have “corrupted the world soccer business to serve their interests and to enrich themselves.”
She notably spoke of corruption in the awarding of the World Cup in South Africa in 2010, and the granting of rights for the centenary of the Copa America next year in the United States.
For South Africa, “even for this historic event, FIFA leaders and others have corrupted the process of using bribes to influence the award decision,” said Ms. Lynch.
“It is only accusations,” responded to AFP Dominic Chimhavi, spokesperson of the South African Soccer Federation. “No one is under the influence of an investigation here,” he added.
For the 2016 edition of the centenary of the Copa America, scheduled in the US, “Our investigation has shown that what should have been an expression of international sportsmanship was used to fill the pockets of officials, to 110 million dollars. Almost a third of the cost of legitimate rights tournaments concerned “, also said the minister.
Ms Lynch added that the next step was a request for extradition of the accused to the United States to be tried there. Six of the seven people arrested in Zurich have already indicated that they were opposed.
“These defendants abused the US financial system and violated US law, and we intend to hold them accountable,” added the minister.
“World Cup of fraud”
Nine elected representatives of FIFA and the five global body of soccer partners were indicted Wednesday for corruption, racketeering and money laundering in New York, accused of receiving or distributed more than $ 150 million since 1991, including the rights of broadcast international tournaments.
Seven of them were arrested in Zurich city where the FIFA headquarters and where to take place Friday the election of the organization’s president.
They face up to 20 years in prison.
According to Ms. Lynch, corruption and bribes were also extended for president of FIFA in 2011, and “agreements concerning the sponsorship of the Brazilian national team soccer by a large firm American sports equipment. ”
The US authorities also announced Wednesday that six other people had pleaded guilty in this case between July 2013 and May 2015, with Charles Blazer, former general secretary of CONCACAF and former member of the executive committee of FIFA, and two son Jack Warner .
Charles Blazer had in 19 years accumulated more than $ 11 million that he had not declared to the tax authorities, said an official of the US Treasury, Charles Weber.
“This is the World Cup of fraud. Today we released the red card, “he said.
“On numerous occasions, the accused conspirators planned and some aspects of this long conspiracy in the United States. They used banks and possibilities of transfers in the United States, “said Minister of Justice.
The partners charged with FIFA are professional sports marketing, suspected of “paid systematically and agreed to pay well over 150 million dollars in bribes, kickbacks and wine for lucrative media rights and Marketing for international soccer tournaments, “according to US authorities.