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Fifa exco members took bribes for Qatar World Cup votes, US prosecutors allege

Prosecutors in New York have revealed new details of alleged bribes paid to Fifa executive committee members to gain their votes for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup.

An indictment unsealed on Monday in the US District Court in Brooklyn says Nicolás Leoz, the Paraguayan then president of the South American governing body, Conmebol, and the former Brazil federation president Ricardo Teixeira received bribes to vote for Qatar at the 2010 Fifa executive committee meeting.

Jack Warner, the former president of Concacaf, the governing body for North and Central America, is said to have received $5m in bribes to vote for Russia to host in 2018. The money allegedly came from 10 different shell companies, including entities in Anguilla, Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands.

The Guatemala federation president, Rafael Salguero, was also promised a $1m bribe to vote for Russia, according to the indictment. Leoz, who died last August, avoided extradition, as have Warner, from Trinidad & Tobago, and Teixeira. Salguero pleaded guilty in 2018 to two counts of wire fraud conspiracy, and one count each of racketeering conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.

Alejandro Burzaco, the Argentinian former head of the marketing company Torneos y Competencias, testified in 2017 that all three South Americans on the Fifa executive committee took million-dollar bribes to support Qatar, which beat the US in the final vote.

In a statement, William F Sweeney Jr., assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office, said: “The profiteering and bribery in international soccer have been deep-seated and commonly known practices for decades.”

He added: “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.”

Since the first indictments were announced in May 2015, there have been 26 publicly announced guilty pleas, many from former soccer officials, including the American general secretary of Concacaf, Chuck Blazer. The Conmebol president, Juan Ángel Napout of Paraguay, and Brazil federation president José Maria Marin were convicted following trials.

The US Department of Justice also announced that two former 21st Century Fox executives, Hernan Lopez and Carlos Martinez, have been charged with making payments to Conmebol officials in order to obtain broadcast rights bidding information. Fox gained the broadcast rights for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments in 2011, with Fifa later awarded Fox rights for 2026 without competitive bidding.

Lopez and Martinez are also accused of joining with a Uruguayan company, Full Play Group SA, to pay million of dollars in bribes to Conmebol executives in exchange for rights to the Copa Libertadores, South America’s annual club championship.

Gerard Romy, the Spanish former CEO of Imagina Media Audiovisual, is accused with joining his alleged co-conspirators to pay a $3m bribe to Jeffrey Webb, the former president of Concacaf, for media and marketing rights to home World Cup qualifiers in the Caribbean. Webb, from the Cayman Islands, pleaded guilty in November 2015 to several counts and awaits sentencing.

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