FIFA files for compensation in U.S. as victim of corruption

Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:50am EDT
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By Brian Homewood and David Ingram

ZURICH/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global soccer body FIFA has applied to U.S. authorities for tens of millions of dollars in damages from ex-officials indicted there for graft and recognized for the first time executives had in the past "sold" votes in World Cup hosting contests.

Gianni Infantino, recently elected president to clear out the worst corruption scandal in FIFA history, said the money had been meant for playing fields and kit, not officials' mansions and cars and he would get it back "no matter how long it takes".

The Swiss-based body said it had filed a restitution request on Tuesday with federal prosecutors in New York.

In the document and an accompanying letter, it demanded return of salaries and payment of compensation for damage to its brand, business interests and reputation.

"The defendants...deeply tarnished the FIFA brand and impaired FIFA's ability to use its resources for positive actions throughout the world," the document said.

The very future of FIFA has been put in question by the graft scandal, with some demanding its abolition. The move for recompense casts FIFA for the first time, under its new president, prominently as plaintiff and victim.

The FIFA document listed cases of alleged wrongdoing, including the race to host the 2010 World Cup, won by South Africa, already detailed by U.S. authorities in December.

It said former executive committee members Jack Warner, who has been banned for life but denies wrongdoing, Chuck Blazer, who has pleaded guilty to racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering, along with other individuals engineered a $10 million payoff in exchange for executive committee votes.   Continued...

A FIFA sign is seen outside the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland December 17, 2015. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich