FIFA members indicted in new bribery charges
Prosecutors have indicted several FIFA executives amidst fresh bribery charges. Ennio Leanza/Shutterstock.

United States prosecutors have released new information indicting numerous former FIFA and Fox executives for offences related to Russia and Qatar being awarded the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups, respectively.

The unsealed indictment was filed in the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn and names 17 parties— 16 individuals and the Argentinian sports media rights company Full Play Group—among those who were bribed or offered bribes in exchange for votes to award tournament rights.

Former CONCACAF president Jack Warner—who was indicted as part of the 2015 FIFA corruption scandal—is accused of receiving $5 million to vote for Russia to host the 2018 World Cup.

Russia beat England to the hosting rights for the most recent World Cup competition, which was decided in 2010 at a FIFA executive committee meeting.

Tariq Panja of the New York Times posted screenshots from the newly released charges:

Nicolas Leoz—who presided over South American football’s governing body, CONMEBOL, between 1986 and 2015—and ex-Brazilian FA (CBF) president Ricardo Teixeira are alleged to have taken million-dollar bribes to back Qatar as 2022 hosts. Leoz was 90 and fighting extradition to the United States when he died in August 2019.

Qatar beat the United States to win hosting rights for 2022, but their bid has been covered in controversy relating to difficult playing conditions and worker rights. The Guardian’s Pete Pattison reported in March that 34 construction workers have died building stadia for the tournament, including nine in 2019 alone.

Hernan Lopez and Carlos Martinez are the two former senior Fox executives implicated in the fresh bribery indictment. Lopez, ex-head of the broadcaster’s International Channels, and Martinez, former president of Fox Latin America, are accused of relying on “loyalty secured through the payment of bribes” in order to advance Fox’s business interests.

Part of their indictment is for facilitating the “concealment of annual bribe and kickback payments” to CONMEBOL officials in exchange for broadcasting rights for the Copa Libertadores—South America’s top club competition—between 2005 and 2015.

Football finance expert Kiera Maguire highlighted the full list of indictees included in the latest charges, noting the level of corruption perhaps isn't a surprise at this stage:

William F. Sweeney Jr., assistant director of the FBI’s New York field office, released a statement via Associated Press, which read:

“The profiteering and bribery in international soccer have been deep-seated and commonly known practices for decades. Over a period of many years, the defendants and their co-conspirators corrupted the governance and business of international soccer with bribes and kickbacks, and engaged in criminal fraudulent schemes that caused significant harm to the sport of soccer. Their schemes included the use of shell companies, sham consulting contracts and other concealment methods to disguise the bribes and kickback payments and make them appear legitimate.”

The Guardian’s Oliver Laughland wrote more than 40 people and entities have been charged in connection with the U.S. investigation into world football bribery, which began in 2015.