The FIFA corruption scandal rocking the football world has cast a shadow over the historic decision to stage the 2010 World Cup in Africa.
Announcing racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering charges against nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives on Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said of the lead-up to choosing South Africa as the 2010 host that “even for this historic event, FIFA executives and others corrupted the process by using bribes to influence the hosting decision.”
While Lynch gave no details, the New York Times reported that the indictment unsealed by New York prosecutors listed “a South Africa World Cup bid committee official” as one of 25 unnamed co-conspirators in the case.
The Times said former FIFA vice president Jack Warner – one of those facing charges – “directed an associate to fly to Paris, accept a briefcase full of cash in $10,000 stacks from a South African bid committee member in a hotel room, and return the briefcase to Mr. Warner in Trinidad.
“Later, a Moroccan bid committee member offered Mr. Warner $1 million in exchange for his vote, but that person was outmaneuvered: the South African bid committee had arranged a $10 million bribe in exchange for the votes of Mr. Warner and two co-conspirators on South Africa’s behalf. All three ultimately voted for South Africa.”
In her statement, delivered at a news conference in New York, Lynch accused soccer officials of abusing their positions for more than two decades
“In short,” she said, “these individuals and organizations engaged in bribery to decide who would televise games; where the games would be held; and who would run the organization overseeing organized soccer worldwide.”
A statement by the Federal Bureau of Investigation quoted its director, James B. Comey, as saying that “undisclosed and illegal payments, kickbacks, and bribes became a way of doing business at FIFA.”