US Department of Justice describes soccer bodies as "victims of crime".
More than US$200million in stolen funds relating to the 2015 scandal will be returned to Fifa and two other continental governing bodies. These are Concacaf, which oversees the sport in North and Central America, as well as the Caribbean and Conmebol, which covers South America. The money was seized from the bank accounts of former officials who were prosecuted for corruption and will be returned to these global football governing bodies.
The remission will be used by the Fifa Foundation to help finance soccer-related projects that will have a positive impact on the community. An independent board will decide how the funds are allocated.
The scandal, which took place in 2015, was the biggest the game has seen and it saw collusion between officials from the governing bodies and sports marketing executives, with fraud, bribery, racketeering and money laundering offences committed. It saw the end of Sepp Blatter’s reign and led to the election of Gianni Infantino. The Italian believes the return of the money highlights how the governing body has now moved on from being a “toxic organisation”. “I am delighted to see that money which was illegally siphoned out of football is now coming back to be used for its proper purposes, as it should have been in the first place,” said Infantino.
“Thankfully, we are well past that unfortunate period in history now and it’s great to see significant funding being put at the disposal of the Fifa Foundation, which can positively impact so many people across the football world, especially through youth and community programmes. “Since 2016, Fifa and the United States Department of Justice have been in close co-operation, and I believe this decision also acknowledges the significant progress we have made in terms of good governance and transparency, all of which was discussed and presented by Fifa officials and me in meetings with the authorities. “Today, they know that with the Fifa Foundation this money is in good hands and will serve the purpose it is intended for.
Acting US attorney Jacquelyn M Kasulis for the Eastern District of New York said: “Today’s announcement confirms that money stolen by corrupt soccer officials and sports marketing executives through fraud and greed will be returned to where it belongs and used to benefit the sport. “From the start, this investigation and prosecution have been focused on bringing wrongdoers to justice and restoring ill-gotten gains to those who work for the benefit of the beautiful game. Our office, together with our law enforcement partners, will always work to compensate victims of crime.”