Several high-ranking FIFA officials were arrested on racketeering and corruption charges in Zurich on Wednesday.
Nine current and former FIFA officials are accused of taking more than $US150 million in bribes related to tournaments in North and South America.
While the indictment doesn’t mention the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, and FIFA says the tournaments will go on as scheduled, these charges have revived calls for a re-vote for the heavily criticised 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The host nations for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were voted on by 22 members of FIFA’s executive committee in December of 2010. In the five years since the vote, a significant portion of those voters have faced serious corruption allegations.
Two of those 22 voters, Jack Warner and Nicolas Leoz, were were arrested Wednesday on corruption charges. Additionally, three other members of the 2010 FIFA executive committee — Mohammed Bin Hammam, Ricardo Terra Teixeira, and Chuck Blazer — all resigned in disgrace amid corruption allegations since 2010.
- Jack Warner — One of the nine executive committee members arrested on Wednesday and one of the 22 voting members of the 2010 FIFA executive committee. Warner was suspended in 2011 for offering bribes for FIFA presidential votes, and he was also accused of accepting money for his 2022 World Cup vote for Qatar. The indictment alleges that Warner accepted bribes from a sports marketing company before awarding Conacacaf Gold Cup rights, among other charges.
- Nicolas Leoz — Another member of the executive committee who voted on the 2022 World Cup who was also arrested on corruption charges in Zurich. The incident alleges that he accepted bribes for the Copa America and Copa Libertadores rights.
- Mohammed Bin Hammam — Dropped out of the FIFA presidential race in 2011 after he allegedly bribed 25 Caribbean Football Union members for votes with $US1 million, which was distributed by Warner. In 2012, amid investigations of bribery, Hammam resigned shortly before the FIFA Ethics Committee found him guilty of “repeated” violations of the ethics code and banned him for life. In 2014, the Sunday Times claimed that Hammam paid Warner $US450,000 in advance of the 2010 vote on the 2022 World Cup and another $US1.2 million afterward.
- Ricardo Terra Teixeira — Was found guilty in 2012 of accepting bribes in the 1990s for the World Cup.
- Chuck Blazer — A FIFA executive-turned-FBI informant who helped with the corruption arrests on Wednesday. He had previously pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, wire-fraud conspiracy, money-laundering conspiracy, income-tax evasion, according to a U.S. Department of Justice statement released Wednesday.
In addition to those five, 10 other members of the 2010 executive committee board are wanted for questioning by Swiss authorities as part of a separate investigation into the 2018/2022 bidding process. Those executives: Issa Hayatou, Angel Maria Villar Llona, Michel D’Hooghe, Senes Erzik, Worawi Makudi, Marios Lefkaritis, Jacques Anouma, Rafael Salguero, Hany Abo Rida, and Vitaly Mutko.
To pile onto the increased perception that the 2010 executive committee was corrupt, only 22 members of that committee were even allowed to vote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups because of corruption charges. There are typically 24 members of the committee, but two of the members, Reynald Temarii and Amos Adamu, were suspended and denied votes over corruption charges prior to the World Cup voting in 2010.
The corruption arrests only add to the controversy surrounding the 2022 Qatar World Cup. In addition to scheduling conflicts for players, there are several reports about inhumane working conditions for modern-day “slaves” helping build the infrastructure for the World Cup. A campaign by the International Trade Union Confederation, Play Fair Qatarm and NewFifaNow claims, “more than 62 workers will die for each game played during the 2022 tournament.”
While the FIFA arrests didn’t go after corruption related to the 2022 World Cup specifically, they drew the integrity and legitimacy of the executive committee that picked Qatar further into question.
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