The New York federal court has charged 14 top ranking FIFA officials with money laundering, racketeering, and conspiracies. It came to light with the unsealing of a 14 count indictment in the Brooklyn court. The defendants had participated in a 24 year scheme for financial enrichment through illegal practices with international soccer. One by one, the guilty pleas of these defendants are being unsealed.
FIFA regulates and promotes soccer throughout the globe and leads other football bodies operating under its rule. CONCACAF former and current heads, Jack Warner and Jeffrey Webb are among those office bearers charged with corrupt practices.US headquartered continental confederation were also booked for bribery offences and racketeering. Sports marketing workers of South America and US have paid and also agreed on paying more than $150 million as bribe. It was done to grab lucrative marketing and media rights for international soccer leagues.
The corruption charge announcements were made by attorney Lynch, eastern district attorney Currie, FBI director Comey and others. Swiss officials of Zurich arrested 7 defendants including Eduardo Li, Jeffrey Web, Costas Takkas, Julio Rocha, Rafael Esquivel, Jose Marin, and Eugenio Figueredo. Former GS of the CONCACAF and FIFA executive committee’s ex US representative Charles Blazer and Traffic Group’s Jose Hawilla along with his two companies are the corporate defendants.
Attorney Lynch points out that such allegations are basically for deep rooted, systematic and rampant corruption. It stretches as much as two generations of the officials who as per allegations have utilized their position and power for personal monetary gains in form of bribes. The victims range from young soccer leagues to developing nations that should have benefitted out of the income generated by commercial rights. Fans were also cheated whose support makes the game bigger. Such action taken against corrupt officials proves DOJ’s attempt to uproot misconduct, wrongdoers, corruption and establish justice.
Attorney Lynch appreciated the contribution of Swiss government and other international soccer federations. It is due to their wholehearted assistance in the investigation of this matter. US’s Acting attorney Currie believes that court announcement should get the message clear. Organized worldwide soccer requires a fresh start for it would be an opportunity for relevant governing bodies to offer honest insight and complete support to globally loved sport. However, the indictment isn’t the last chapter of this investigation, reflected Currie. She was thankful to investigative personnel, catalysts, agents, FBI NY Crime Squad and international colleagues for their stupendous efforts. Unless proved guilty by law, the defendants would be presumed innocence despite allegations.
According to Chief Weber, whenever the organization heads start off cheating the people that should be supported, they need to be accountable. Weber believes that no successful business should have money laundering, tax fraud and corruption as its cornerstone. Those associated with the sport such as sponsors, players and fans shouldn’t worry regarding officials corrupting the game. Investigations are going in full swing and the guilty could be punished severely with fines and jail term. The money forfeited is also held as reserve for ensuring availability as per law.
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