FIFA is not going to move past a sweeping bribery investigation into international soccer so easily, Adirondack Daily Enterprise reported.
Qatar World Cup
Qatar spent much of the past seven years denying it bought victory or acted improperly toward FIFA voters.
Still, testimony in Brooklyn suggested a broader plan to build influence among voters’ colleagues, even if the defendants had no vote when FIFA’s executive committee picked the 2018-2022 World Cup hosts in December 2010.
In court, star witness Burzaco — an Argentine marketing executive who paid bribes and made a deal with prosecutors to testify — described his associate Grondona complaining to Qataris at a five-star hotel in Rio de Janeiro about selling his vote too cheaply.
Grondona said he got into “all these mess and scandal for only” $1.5 million, while Teixeira got tens of millions,” Burzaco said.
Another witness, from a different Argentine agency, testified that a ledger of bribes included payments of $750,000 and $500,000 to South American soccer federation presidents who did not have World Cup hosting votes. The payments were labeled “Q2022.”
At a Madrid hotel before the 2010 Champions League final, South American soccer officials were told that $15 million from Qatari interests was available as bribes money, according to one witness who has pleaded guilty, Luis Bedoya of Colombia.
FIFA the victim
FIFA has paid tens of millions of dollars to American lawyers and media consultants to help persuade the Department of Justice it is a victim of corruption, and not complicit.
That investment seemed to pay off in court. Direct references to FIFA leaders and staffers were rarely heard.
That should help FIFA get a share of more than $200 million in forfeitures by agencies and people who have been indicted or pleaded guilty in the wider case.
FIFA’s restitution claim in March 2016 was for $38.2 million plus legal fees and compensation for reputational damage.
A longer-term issue for FIFA is its 2026 and 2030 World Cup broadcast partners. While not charged in the American case, Fox Sports, Globo of Brazil, Televisa of Mexico were mentioned in testimony. They allegedly teamed up to bribe Grondona with $15 million to secure two-tournament deals in South America.
Another 2026-2030 rights holder, Qatar’s BeIN, is already under criminal investigation in Switzerland for suspected bribery in that deal.