A six-year investigation into bribery schemes in various world football organizations came to a close on Tuesday.
FIFA, the governing body of international football; CONCACAF, the confederation overseeing football in North and Central America as well as the Caribbean countries; CONMEBOL, the governing confederation in South America; and other affected entities received $201 million from the US Department of Justice.
The Department of Justice determined that the organizations had been victims of decades-long bribery schemes that had tainted football and stifled its growth.
“I am delighted to see that money which was illegally siphoned out of football is now coming back to be used for its proper purposes, as it should have been in the first place,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino. “The truth is that, thanks to (US Justice Department) intervention back in 2015, we have been able to fundamentally change FIFA from a toxic organisation at the time, to a highly esteemed and trusted global sports governing body.”
According to the DOJ, the investigation resulted in charges being filed against more than 50 people and corporations from more than 20 countries. The charges are “primarily in connection with the offer and receipt of bribes and kickbacks paid by sports marketing companies to soccer officials in exchange for the media and marketing rights to various soccer tournaments and events,” the DOJ statement read.
According to the DOJ statement, an indictment charging 14 FIFA officials and sports marketing executives with racketeering, honest services wire fraud, and money laundering offenses was first unsealed in May 2015.
Following the unsealing of an indictment in December 2015, an additional 16 FIFA officials were charged with similar crimes, according to the DOJ.
“Four corporate entities have pleaded guilty and others, including banking institutions, have acknowledged their roles in criminal conduct through deferred prosecution or non-prosecution agreements,” the DOJ statement read, adding that the investigation is still ongoing.
The $201 million reward will be distributed by FIFA, CONCACAF, and CONMEBOL to a newly created World Football Remission Fund, which will be established under the FIFA Foundation and will be “focused on youth programs, community outreach, and humanitarian needs,” according to the DOJ.