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The US Department of Justice (DOJ) confirmed on Tuesday that FIFA will receive $201 million in forfeited funds from a global football corruption investigation.
The money is compensation for losses FIFA, CONCACAF (the confederation responsible for football in North and Central America), and South America’s governing body CONMEBOL suffered due to corruption.
The investigation started in 2015
The Department of Justice unveiled the corruption investigation in 2015. More than 50 defendants have been indicted on criminal charges. Twenty-seven individuals and four legal entities pleaded guilty with two people convicted at trial.
The scandal is the biggest football has ever seen. It saw collusion between governing body officials and sports marketing officials, involving fraud, bribery, organized crime, and money laundering. It also saw the end of Swiss Joseph Blatter’s reign as FIFA president, leading to the election of Gianni Infantino.
Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, confirmed in a statement that the money stolen by corrupt football officials and sports marketing officials through fraud and greed will be returned and used for the benefit of the sport.
She also added that from the beginning, the investigation and prosecutions have focused on bringing wrongdoers to justice. And that it will restore the ill-gotten gains to those who work for the benefit of the good game.
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Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael J. Driscoll of the FBI’s New York Field Office also made some statements.
“Kickbacks and bribes have a way of spreading like a disease through corrupt groups; pure and simple greed keeps the graft going.”
“Not one official in this investigation seemed to care about the damage being done to a sport that millions around the world revere. The only silver lining is the money will now help underprivileged people who need it, not the wealthy executives who just wanted it to get richer.”
J. Driscoll stated that the FBI work and their promise to those who love the game have not finished yet. That FBI won’t give up until everyone gets justice for what they’ve done.
Where will the forfeited money go?
The investigation confiscated the money from the bank accounts of former officials accused of corruption. It will go to a new Global Football Remittance Fund, and FIFA Foundation will administer it. This will “help fund football-related projects with a significant impact on football”.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino said he was happy to see that money illegally diverted from football will go back to its proper use.
“I would like to sincerely thank the US judicial authorities for their efforts in this regard, for their swift and efficient approach to completing these cases, and also for their trust in general.”
Infantino also thanked the US authorities for their trust in FIFA. He also assured that they will use the funds properly, and bring tangible benefits to the people who really need them.
Finally, he added that the money is now in good hands at FIFA Foundation, serving its intended purpose.
Let´s hope so.
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