2015 FIFA corruption case

In 2015, U.S. federal prosecutors disclosed cases of corruption by officials and associates connected with the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the governing body of association football, futsal and beach soccer.
Near the end of May 2015, fourteen people were indicted in connection with an investigation by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division into wire fraud, racketeering, and money laundering. The United States Attorney General simultaneously announced the unsealing of the indictments and the prior guilty pleas by four football executives and two corporations.
The investigation mostly revolved around collusion between officials of continental football bodies CONMEBOL and CONCACAF, and sports marketing executives. The sports marketing executives were holders of media and marketing rights for high-profile international competitions including the Americas' FIFA World Cup qualifying tournaments, and showpiece tournaments CONCACAF Gold Cup and Copa América.
CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb, also serving president of the Cayman Islands Football Association, was arrested in connection with the investigation, as were two sitting FIFA Executive Committee members: Eduardo Li of the Costa Rican Football Federation and Eugenio Figueredo, formerly of the Uruguayan Football Association, and former CONMEBOL President Nicolás Leoz. The investigation lasted several years, with the first arrest, of former CONCACAF president Jack Warner's son Daryll, made in July 2013.
In total, seven current FIFA officials were arrested at the Hotel Baur au Lac in Zürich on 27 May. They were preparing to attend the 65th FIFA Congress, which was scheduled to include the election of the president of FIFA. They are expected to be extradited to the United States on suspicion of receiving in bribes. There was also a simultaneous raid on the CONCACAF headquarters in Miami, and later, two further men handed themselves in to police for arrest: Jack Warner and marketing executive Alejandro Burzaco. Two further arrests of FIFA officials at the hotel occurred in December 2015.
The arrests case triggered Australia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Germany and Switzerland to open or intensify separate criminal investigations into top FIFA officials for corruption.


The 2015 arrests centre on the alleged use of bribery, fraud and money laundering to corrupt the issuing of media and marketing rights for FIFA games in the Americas, estimated at $150 million, including at least $110 million in bribes related to the Copa América Centenario to be hosted in 2016 in the United States. In addition, the indictment handed down by the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, New York, alleges that bribery was used in an attempt to influence clothing sponsorship contracts, the selection process for the 2010 FIFA World Cup host, and the 2011 FIFA presidential election. Specifically, an unnamed sports equipment company – identified in multiple sources as Nike, Inc. – is alleged to have paid at least $40 million in bribes to become the sole provider of uniforms, footwear, accessories, and equipment to the Brazil national team.
In December 2010, federal law enforcement agents secured the undercover cooperation of American football executive and CONCACAF official Chuck Blazer. The FBI's New York office had begun its probe as a spin-off of an unrelated organised crime investigation, and in August 2011, IRS-CI's Los Angeles office began investigating Blazer's alleged failure to file personal income tax returns. In December 2011, IRS-CI became aware of what the FBI was up to from news reports and the two offices began a joint investigation of Blazer. They were investigating Blazer's involvement in the bidding process for host countries for the FIFA World Cups from the early 1990s onwards. Blazer agreed to cooperate almost immediately after two agents approached him in New York and confronted him with proof of his tax crimes.
In December 2010, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and former British Prime Minister David Cameron attended a meeting with FIFA vice-president Chung Mong-joon in which a vote-trading deal for the right to host the 2018 World Cup was discussed.
In November 2013, Blazer pleaded guilty to 10 criminal charges including wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering, and offenses involving income tax and banking. Blazer's guilty plea had aimed to stave off a more serious charge of racketeering, which carried a potential 20-year prison sentence. Blazer would later make secret recordings of meetings with FIFA officials, and allegedly carried a recording device concealed in a key ring during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The information against Blazer was revealed on 27 May 2015, the same day that the arrests were made in Zurich.
In 2011, Phaedra Al-Majid, who was part of the successful 2022 Qatari World Cup Bid, came forward as a whistle-blower. She claimed that Qatar paid $1.5 million to African Football Confederation president Issa Hayatou, Ivory Coast FIFA member Jacques Anouma and Nigeria's suspended official Amos Adamu to vote for Qatar; all three denied the allegations. She later stated that she had fabricated her claims for media attention. Al-Majid co-operated with the Garcia Report. In November 2014, she stated that she was coerced into withdrawing her allegations as she feared for her safety and due to her lack of legal representation., she was in FBI protective custody, when she stated, "The FBI have everything... There are people who are annoyed with me , and what really irks them is that I'm a female, Muslim whistleblower.... I just don't think Blatter actually intends to quit. Everything he does is very calculated. He'll try very hard to save himself, I'm sure of it."
In May 2011, The Sunday Times published claims from a whistle-blower that President of CAF Issa Hayatou had, along with fellow Executive Committee member Jacques Anouma, accepted $1.5 million bribes from Qatar to secure his support for their bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
In 2013, former FIFA President João Havelange and the Brazilian Football Confederation President Ricardo Teixeira were both found to have taken bribes worth millions of dollars. FIFA executive committee member was sanctioned with a lifetime ban for bribery and corruption.

$10 million South African payment

In the wake of the corruption case, it was reported that in 2008 the general secretary of FIFA, Jérôme Valcke was alleged to have transferred $10 million that had been given to FIFA by Danny Jordaan, president of the South African Football Association, to accounts controlled by Jack Warner, then head of CONCACAF. The payment is a key piece of the American prosecutors' indictment that accuses Warner of taking a bribe in exchange for helping South Africa secure the right to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The payment from the South African Football Association had been intended to support the development of football in the Caribbean. $1.6 million of the South African payment was used by Warner to pay personal loans and credit cards and a further $360,000 was withdrawn by people connected to Warner. The Trinidadian supermarket chain JTA Supermarkets also received $4,860,000 from the FIFA payment.

2014 World Cup

The 2014 World Cup hosted in Brazil was controversial since the beginning. Brazilian residents were unhappy with the amount of public money spent in order to build stadiums and other necessary facilities to host the World Cup. Many protests were held by citizens claiming poor financial management from the Brazilian government. Furthermore, there were additional issues with regard to safety, misconduct, and officiating with underperformance referees.
Safety was a major issue for the world cup. Under the construction of multiple stadiums, eight workers died in a fire. Additionally, there was an unstable makeshift staircase at the Maracanã Stadium, a collapse in a frequently used monorail, and an unfinished overpass in Belo Horizonte due to funds being allocated on Stadiums.
The 2014 World Cup also faced numerous disciplinary cases such as Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez biting an Italian player, Giorgio Chiellini during a game, or Portuguese player, Pepe head-butting the German player Thomas Müller. Some of these disciplinary actions raised concerns in the poor judgment that referees would conduct during games.
As part of the underperformance referees claims, various speculations of the World Cup being rigged started to raise. Many referee mistakes were crucial for a lot of countries to pass to the next stage. Some of the referee mistakes include Russia vs Algeria: laser used against Russian goalkeeper, Netherlands vs Mexico erroneous penalty call against Mexico, Juan Camilo Zuniga fault to Neymar resulting in a serious injury, and multiple penalty calls that were avoided in the 2014 final Argentina vs Germany.
All these incidents were key clues for further investigation in the bribery scandal.

Laws used in charging

The Department of Justice has not charged anybody at FIFA with bribery. Prosecutors have instead alleged racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracies under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act Act, which was intended for use against the Mafia. In addition, officials have been charged with violations of the Travel Act. The relevant part of the law essentially says that it is illegal to engage in interstate or foreign travel, or use the mails or "any facility in interstate commerce" to promote, manage, establish or carry on an illegal activity. That activity can be illegal under either federal or state law. Bribery is definitely included on the list of what is considered an illegal activity under the Travel Act. Any relevant transaction, even if it is only tangentially related to America, can be targeted. In one instance, a representative of First Caribbean International Bank in the Bahamas flew to New York to pick up a cheque for $250,000 from the bribe recipient to transport it safely back to the defendant's bank account.

Swiss criminal inquiries

FIFA commissioned former United States Attorney Michael J. Garcia to investigate and report on the bidding processes behind the awarding of the 2018 FIFA World Cup to Russia and the 2022 FIFA World Cup to Qatar. In November 2014, FIFA made a copy of Garcia's report available to the Attorney General of Switzerland, who then stated that there were "grounds for suspicion that, in isolated cases, international transfers of assets with connections to Switzerland took place which merit examination by the criminal prosecution authorities".
Sepp Blatter had been president of FIFA since 1998. The Guardian said that FIFA's actions would "... inevitably be viewed with cynicism given Blatter's track record of using the Swiss courts and FIFA's regulatory processes to kick problematic issues into the long grass and deflect attention onto individuals who have already left football".
In May 2015, on the same day as the arrests resulting from the FBI's investigation and in a separate action, the Swiss prosecuting authorities launched a criminal inquiry on "suspicion of criminal mismanagement and of money laundering" concerning the 2018 and 2022 bidding processes. The Swiss authorities seized "electronic data and documents" in a raid on FIFA's Zürich headquarters. The Swiss police also planned to question ten members of the FIFA Executive Committee who participated in the December 2010 votes that chose the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 world cups.
In September 2015, Switzerland was investigating a payment Blatter authorised in 2011 to the president of the Union of European Football Associations Michel Platini for work done between 1999 and 2002. They also launched an investigation of possible "criminal mismanagement" by Blatter in a 2005 TV rights deal he signed with Jack Warner.
In March 2017, FIFA submitted 1300 pages of reports to the Swiss Attorney General's office. The investigation is expected to take up to 5 years to complete.

Television rights

In September 2015, Swiss public television channel SRF published that Blatter would have sold the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cup rights in North America for US$600,000, a small fraction of their market value.
Torneos & Traffic is a subsidiary of Fox International Channels since 2005 is the same company involved in corrupt practices in the acquisition of rights to major South American football tournaments.

Indicted individuals and corporations

A total of 18 individuals and two corporations have been indicted, including nine FIFA officials and five businessmen.

Initial indictments



Second indictment

The December indictment included the following 16 individuals:
PanamaCurrent member of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee. Former CONCACAF Executive Committee member
PeruCurrent member of the FIFA Development Committee. Former Peruvian soccer federation president.
HondurasCurrent member of the FIFA Television and Marketing Committee. Former Honduran football federation president and former president of the Republic of Honduras.Guilty Plea
BoliviaCurrent CONMEBOL treasurer. Former Bolivian football federation president.
EcuadorCurrent Ecuadorian football federation president and member of the CONMEBOL Executive Committee.
ArgentinaFormer CONMEBOL general secretary.
BrazilCurrent president of the Brazilian football federation.
HondurasCurrent FIFA vice president and Executive Committee member and CONCACAF president.Arrested
GuatemalaCurrent Guatemalan football federation president and member of the FIFA Committee for Fair Play and Social Responsibility.Guilty Plea
ArgentinaCurrent CONMEBOL general secretary.
ParaguayFormer FIFA vice president, Executive Committee member and CONMEBOL president, Paraguayan football federation president.Arrested
BoliviaCurrent member of the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee. Former CONMEBOL treasurer.
GuatemalaFormer FIFA Executive Committee member and Guatemalan football federation president.
BrazilFormer Brazilian football federation president and FIFA Executive Committee member.
GuatemalaCurrent Guatemalan football federation general secretary and judge on the Constitutional Court of Guatemala.On trial. Not guilty plea entered.
El SalvadorFormer Salvadoran football federation president.

Timeline of events

Historical events leading to the arrests

In 2001, FIFA affiliate International Sports and Leisure went bankrupt in what were viewed in some circles as suspicious circumstances. In 2002 a FIFA whistleblower contacted British journalist Andrew Jennings relating to alleged corruption within FIFA itself.
Following investigations Swiss magistrate Thomas Hildbrand seized documents from FIFA offices in 2005 and in 2007 Jennings published a book – Foul – and broadcast the BBC Panorama documentary "The Beautiful Bung: Corruption and the World Cup". Panorama later aired the "Fifa and Co" documentary in 2007, which contained an allegation of soliciting a bribe against Jack Warner and a court judgement that Jérôme Valcke had lied in FIFA business dealings. These reports led the FBI to contact Jennings in 2009.
On 29 November 2010 the BBC broadcast FIFA's Dirty Secrets, a second documentary by Jennings. This was aired just days before the results of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup bids in Zurich, Switzerland. Following the bidding process, FIFA announced that Russia and Qatar had won the rights to stage the 2018 and 2022 World Cups respectively. The result immediately caused controversies, as Russia is accused of a high level of racism in football and because of its involvement in the Ukrainian crisis. After it was announced that Russia would host 2018 FIFA World Cup, Dr Rafał Pankowski, a head of UEFA FARE Monitoring Centre, accused the Russian Football Union of downplaying racist chants in stadiums. The annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in 2014 led to several British and American politicians calling on FIFA to overturn its decision of hosting the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Criticism from a number of media outlets, sporting experts, and human rights groups also highlighted problems such as Qatar's limited football history, the high expected cost, the local climate, and Qatar's human rights record. Since in summer temperature will reach more than 50 °C in Qatar, it was announced on 24 February 2015 that a winter world cup would go ahead in favour of the traditional summertime event.
In 2011, former MI6 spy Christopher Steele began providing information and sources to the FBI, which helped advance the investigation.
In May 2011 a whistleblower, later revealed to be Phaedra Almajid who was a member of the Qatari bid team for the 2022 World Cup, claimed that money was paid to FIFA's executive committee in order to buy votes. However, she retracted these claims in July 2011, later claiming that she had been coerced into making these retractions.
On May 2013, former CONCACAF executive Chuck Blazer was arrested on bribery charges. Jack Warner and Blazer were suspended from FIFA at around the same time. Then on 17 October 2014 FIFA announced that the Garcia Report into alleged bribery during the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup bids could not be released in full for legal reasons. Garcia later claimed that a summary of the report that was released misrepresents his findings.


On the morning of 27 May 2015, seven FIFA officials were arrested just before the start of the 65th FIFA Congress. Two days later Sepp Blatter comfortably defeated Prince Ali bin Hussein to remain as President of FIFA. David Gill threatened to resign his newly elected role as FIFA Vice-President and member of the FIFA Executive Committee.. 41 arrests in total have now been made with both organizations and individuals being arrested Within these arrests 14 people have been convicted. Out of these 14, there are 12 individuals and 2 organisations.. They were all chargd with things like "racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracies". These investigations are still going on and more arrests is definitely not out he window with Washington, D.C., Attorney General Loretta Lynch stating that they know there are more corrupt officials and organizations and they will not rest until they are caught, " You will not escape our focus,".

May 2015

On 27 May 2015, during the FIFA annual meeting at the Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich, authorities charged 14 officials, including nine current or former FIFA executives, including FIFA vice-president Jeffrey Webb. All faced extradition to the United States. On the same day, the Swiss attorney general's office said that other FIFA executives were being questioned on suspicion of "criminal mismanagement" and money laundering.

June 2015

On 2 June 2015 a letter was published, claiming that Jérôme Valcke was party to a potential bribe paid to former FIFA executive Jack Warner in relation to votes for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Despite his win just four days previously, Sepp Blatter announced his resignation as FIFA President.
The following day, South Africa sports minister Fikile Mbalula denied the $10 million payment to Warner was a bribe.
Later that day, the FBI unsealed the transcript of the allocution made by former FIFA member and head of CONCACAF, Chuck Blazer which he had made when he pleaded guilty in 2013 to various charges as part of an apparent plea bargain. In Blazer's partially-redacted allocution, he claimed that he "and others, while acting in our official capacities, agreed to participate in a scheme to defraud FIFA and CONCACAF of the right to honest services by taking undisclosed bribes" and that he had "agreed with others in or around 1992 to facilitate the acceptance of a bribe in conjunction with the selection of the host nation for the 1998 World Cup. I and others on the FIFA executive committee agreed to accept bribes in conjunction with the selection of South Africa as the host nation for the 2010 World Cup".
On 6 June, Phaedra Almajid, who had been placed under the protective custody of the FBI, claimed that FIFA would be forced to strip Qatar from hosting the 2022 World Cup.
On 9 June, Italian-Argentinian Alejandro Burzaco was arrested in Italy. The two remaining Argentinian businessmen indicted, Hugo Jinkis and Mariano Jinkis, surrendered to a court in Buenos Aires on 18 June.

September 2015

On 17 September 2015, FIFA stated that Jérôme Valcke had been put on leave and released from his duties until further notice. The decision was made by the FIFA Emergency Committee after a series of allegations implicated Valcke of selling World Cup tickets for above face value.
On 25 September, criminal proceedings were started against Blatter by Swiss prosecutors on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and misappropriation. Blatter denied any wrongdoing.

October 2015

On 8 October 2015, FIFA President Sepp Blatter, Secretary General Jerome Valcke and UEFA President Michel Platini were suspended for 80 days by FIFA's Ethics Committee. Blatter appealed the suspension but lost the appeal on 18 November 2015.

November 2015

German police searched the headquarters of the German Football Association over allegations of illegal deals before the 2006 World Cup. The head of president of the German Football Association, Wolfgang Niersbach, resigned. Marco Polo del Nero of Brazil, president of the Brazilian football federation announced his resignation from FIFA Executive Committee on 26 November 2015.

December 2015

On 3 December 2015, FIFA vice-presidents Alfredo Hawit and Juan Angel Napout were arrested on suspicion of bribery in the same Zurich hotel where seven FIFA officials had been arrested in May 2015. Hours later, the U.S. Department of Justice revealed an additional 16 indictments for criminal schemes; as well, former CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb pleaded guilty to money laundering, wire fraud and racketeering.
On 21 December, the FIFA Ethics Committee banned both Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini for eight years from all football-related activity organised by FIFA after being found guilty of a £1.3 million "disloyal payment" made to Platini in 2011. Blatter said he would appeal the verdict.

January 2016

On 9 January 2016, the FIFA Emergency Committee decided to dismiss Jérôme Valcke as FIFA Secretary General and to terminate his employment relationship.

February 2016

On 26 February 2016, an extraordinary FIFA Congress was held and elected UEFA Secretary General Gianni Infantino as the new president of FIFA while also passing a major reform package.

Response to indictments


Blatter's "resignation"

On 29 May 2015 Sepp Blatter won re-election to the FIFA presidency at the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich amid growing criticism over his position. Four days later, however, he announced that he would continue as president only until a new election would be conducted at a 2016 FIFA Extraordinary Congress on 26 February 2016. Blatter said that he would not be a candidate for election at that time. Blatter maintained "I did not resign, I put myself and my office in the hands of the FIFA congress."
Upon the decision of the FIFA Adjudicatory Chamber of the Independent Ethics Committee to provisionally ban Blatter, FIFA recognises Issa Hayatou as the interim president of FIFA in accordance with article 32 of the FIFA Statutes.

Suspended World Cup bid

On 10 June 2015, FIFA announced that they would be delaying the 2026 FIFA World Cup bidding process, amidst allegations surrounding bribery in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding processes. Secretary general Valcke stated that "Due to the situation, I think it's nonsense to start any bidding process for the time being."

Convicted defendants

According to the US Department of Justice web site, the following defendants previously pleaded guilty under seal and agreed to forfeit more than $40 million.
In October 2015, four major FIFA sponsors, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Visa and Budweiser, called for Blatter to stand down immediately as FIFA president.


On 12 June 2015, international law enforcement agency Interpol announced it was suspending a 20 million euro donation by FIFA to fund an anti-gambling and match fixing program. Four million euros was spent in the first two years on prevention and education and another 1.5 million euros was set to be spent in the remaining eight years.
An Interpol spokesman said, "The agreement with FIFA includes a clause which states that 'the Funding Party declares notably that its activities are compatible with the principles, aims and activities of Interpol'. All external partners, whether public or private, must share the fundamental values and principles of the organisation, as well as the wider law enforcement community."
FIFA said it was disappointed by the decision.
The donation for the 10-year Integrity in Sport program was originally accepted in 2011 by former Interpol Secretary-General Ronald Noble.