FIFA seeks "tens of millions" in damages over corruption charges

FIFA has filed for restitution of "tens of millions of dollars" from former football officials indicted in the United States on corruption charges.

"Over many years, the defendants grossly abused their positions of trust to enrich themselves, while causing significant direct and proximate harm to FIFA," a restitution request states.

FIFA said Wednesday the restitution request had been made to the US Attorney’s Office and the US Probation Office for the Eastern District of New York.

It claims damages from 41 former FIFA officials and football organizations, including Chuck Blazer, Jack Warner, Jeffrey Webb and others who have been indicted in the investigation by the US Department of Justice.

In the 22-page restitution claim, FIFA admits for the first time that bribes were paid in connection with voting for the 1998 and 2010 World Cups.

Football's governing body wants compensation for losses for salaries, funds diverted to the defendants’ pockets and damage to FIFA’s reputation, intellectual property, and business relationships.

"The convicted defendants abused the positions of trust they held at FIFA and other international football organisations and caused serious and lasting damage to FIFA, its member associations and the football community," new FIFA president Gianni Infantino said in a statement.

"The monies they pocketed belonged to global football and were meant for the development and promotion of the game. FIFA as the world governing body of football wants that money back and we are determined to get it no matter how long it takes."

In the restitution claim, FIFA said: "The damage done by the defendants’ greed cannot be overstated.

"Their actions have deeply tarnished the FIFA brand and impaired FIFA’s ability to use its resources for positive actions throughout the world, and to meet its global mission of supporting and enhancing the game of football, commonly known in the United States as soccer."

FIFA said that as a victim of the defendants’ crimes, it is entitled under US law for restitution.

"While the investigation continues, the loss amounts are believed to be at least in the tens of millions of dollars," FIFA said in its claim.

More than 190 million dollars in assets had been forfeited while more than 100 million dollars have been identified, recovered or frozen in the United States and abroad in the corruption investigation, FIFA said.

"These funds should be used to compensate the victims of the defendants’ crimes, particularly FIFA and its member associations and confederations," FIFA said.

Infantino was elected FIFA president on February 26 to succeed Joseph Blatter in what football's ruling body hopes will be a major step towards restoring credibility.

"The defendants diverted this money not just from FIFA but from players, coaches and fans worldwide who benefit from the programmes that FIFA runs to develop and promote football," Infantino said.

"These dollars were meant to build football fields, not mansions and pools; to buy football kits, not jewellery and cars; and to fund youth player and coach development, not to underwrite lavish lifestyles for football and sports marketing executives.

"When FIFA recovers this money, it will be directed back to its original purpose: for the benefit and development of international football."

Last update: Tue, 28/06/2016 - 17:25

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