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accusation of bribes for the attribution of the World Cup to Russia and Qatar

Justice in the United States has said that several soccer officials received money to direct their votes when Qatar won the 2022 World Cup.
American justice says several chief executives of football received the money to direct their vote during the attribution to Qatar of the World Cup 2022. ACTION IMAGES / Action Images

French justice is not the only one to be interested in the conditions which prevailed in the attribution to Qatar of the 2022 edition of the Football World Cup. U.S. justice has also investigated the matter, while expanding its investigations into the 2018 edition of the competition, which took place in Russia. For the first time, she formally accuses leaders of the International Football Federation (FIFA) of having received bribes to vote in favor of these two countries. In an indictment, released Monday, April 6, the Brooklyn federal prosecutor wrote black and white that the votes were marred by irregularities.

With regard to Russia, which had been officially designated on December 2, 2010 as host of the 2018 World Cup, the indictment charges three individuals and one society. He reports that Jack Warner, former president of the Confederation of North American, Central American and Caribbean Football (Concacaf), and at the time vice-president of FIFA, received 5 million dollars to vote in favor of the Russian candidacy. The payment was said to have been made through a complex network of front companies.

The document also quotes Rafael Salguero, former president of the Guatemalan Football Federation and former member of the FIFA executive committee. According to the indictment, he was promised $ 1 million in exchange for his support during the vote.

For the attribution of this competition in Qatar, the American justice also affirms that several leaders received money. The document published by the Brooklin attorney quotes former president of the Brazilian Football Federation Ricardo Teixeira and ex-president of the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) Nicolas Leoz, who died in August 2019. He also mentions – anonymously – Argentinian Julio Grondona, ex-vice-president of FIFA, who died in 2014.

The Brooklyn Federal Attorney’s Office gives little information on the origin of these payments. In the case of Jack Warner, the prosecution refers to an individual who acted as contact, describing him as “A close adviser to the President of FIFA” of the time, namely the Swiss Sepp Blatter. The document cites an email sent by this individual to Jack Warner’s assistant, confirming the transfer of $ 5 million.

Forty-five charges

To date, American justice has indicted, since 2015, 45 natural and legal persons in the so-called “Fifagate” case, which exposed a vast system of corruption, especially undermining the federations of the American continent. Twenty-six accused and four individuals pleaded guilty. Two others, who had pleaded not guilty, were sentenced after trial.

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Jack Warner (77) is found in Trinidad and Tobago. His appeal against the United States’ request for extradition is to be considered by the Privy Council, located in London but the highest court under Trinidad.

He is also accused of having sold his vote for the 2010 World Cup, awarded to South Africa. He was sentenced in absentia in 2019 to pay $ 79 million in damages to Concacaf.

Rafael Salguero was sentenced to a three-year house arrest sentence in December 2018, equivalent to the one he had already served. This reduced sentence took into account his collaboration in the investigation carried out by the American justice. As for Ricardo Teixeira, he is in Brazil and therefore escapes, for the moment, from the American authorities.

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Michael Garcia’s investigation report

In November 2014, the German Hans-Joachim Eckert, co-chair of the FIFA ethics committee, considered that behavior “Doubtful” could not be classified as corruption and therefore were not “Not likely to compromise the integrity of the award process” 2018 and 2022 Worlds.

The lawyer was based on the voluminous investigation report (400 pages, 220 material evidence collected and 75 individual interviews carried out) carried out by the former American prosecutor Michael Garcia, long kept secret, then published by FIFA in 2017. In December 2014, Mr. Garcia had resigned, believing that Mr. Eckert had made “a presentation incomplete and erroneous facts and conclusions detailed in the report. “

At the end of his investigation, Mr. Garcia had completely whitewashed the Russian bid committee for the 2018 World Cup, then headed by Vitaly Moutko, a friend of Vladimir Putin and great organizer of the tournament. The rapporteurs, however, only had access to a limited number of documents. The Russian committee’s computers had all been destroyed.

Garcia always believed that no one had read the product of his work in the administration, other than the then FIFA legal director Marco Villiger. However, according to our information, Mr. Garcia’s report was consulted, before their deletion in 2015, by Sepp Blatter and by his French secretary general (2007-2015), Jérôme Valcke.

Since March 2015, the Qatari case has also moved to the judicial field in Switzerland. The award of the 2022 World Cup is the subject of an investigation by the Swiss public prosecutor’s office. The prosecution of the Swiss Confederation has noted, to date, “180 reports of suspicious activity”.

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