Many of us avid football fans have had a low opinion of the FIFA family for a long time. Few would be surprised at the recent indictments by the US Justice Department that were disclosed by the impressive Attorney General Loretta Lynch and her team.
Yet the magnitude of these wire fraud, money laundering, bribing & racketeering allegations that went on in FIFA is just staggering. The FIFA regional bodies in the Caribbean (CONCACAF) and South America (CONMEBOL) have so damaged the game that both bodies should be abolished.
What really disappoints me as a fan of Jamaican football – part of CONCACAF – is that for all the brouhahaa by football officials in the Caribbean, Jamaica has never ever had one modern international class football pitch. Not one. Despite all the development promises – from CONCACAF Austin “Jack”Warner (ex President) and Jeffrey Webb (current President) – it seems they and their cohorts have lined their pockets with millions whilst Caribbean professional players and fans were short changed for 20 years.
Warner had to be taken to court in 2010 for failing to pay Trinidadian players who performed so gallantly in 2006 world cup
The allegations presented by the US Justice Department are too numerous to cover but the paragraphs that stood out for me were c&p below.
” Para 138. For example, on or about March 29, 1999, Traffic caused $200,000 to be wired to a correspondent account at Barclays Bank in New York, New York, for credit to an account held in the name of an entity controlled by Co-Conspirator #1 at Barclays Bank in the Cayman Islands. Approximately three weeks later, on April 23, 1999, $100,000 – half of the amount paid to Co-Conspirator #1 – was transferred from Co-Conspirator #1’s Cayman account to an account at First Citizens Bank in Trinidad and Tobago, held in the name of the defendant JACK WARNER. As it had done in connection with the Copa América scheme, Traffic used an intermediary to make the payment to Co-Conspirator #1 in order to conceal the source and nature of the payment. 186. Previously, the defendant JACK WARNER and his family had cultivated ties with South African soccer officials Case 1:15-cr-00252-RJD Document 1 Filed 05/20/15 Page 82 of 164 PageID #: 82 81 in connection with and subsequent to a failed bid by South Africa to host the 2006 World Cup. In the early 2000s, CoConspirator #14, a member of WARNER’s family, had used WARNER’s contacts in South Africa to organize friendly matches for CONCACAF teams to play in South Africa. At one point, WARNER also directed Co-Conspirator #14 to fly to Paris, France and accept a briefcase containing bundles of U.S. currency in $10,000 stacks in a hotel room from Co-Conspirator #15, a highranking South African bid committee official. Hours after arriving in Paris, Co-Conspirator #14 boarded a return flight and carried the briefcase back to Trinidad and Tobago, where CoConspirator #14 provided it to WARNER.
188. Subsequently, Co-Conspirator #1 learned from the defendant JACK WARNER that high-ranking officials of FIFA, the Case 1:15-cr-00252-RJD Document 1 Filed 05/20/15 Page 83 of 164 PageID #: 83 82 South African government, and the South African bid committee, including Co-Conspirator #16, were prepared to arrange for the government of South Africa to pay $10 million to CFU to “support the African diaspora.” Co-Conspirator #1 understood the offer to be in exchange for the agreement of WARNER, Co-Conspirator #1, and Co-Conspirator #17 to all vote for South Africa, rather than Morocco, to host the 2010 World Cup. At the time, CoConspirator #17, like WARNER and Co-Conspirator #1, was a FIFA executive committee member. WARNER indicated that he had accepted the offer and told Co-Conspirator #1 that he would give a $1 million portion of the $10 million payment to CoConspirator #1.
192. In fact, on January 2, 2008, January 31, 2008 and March 7, 2008, a high-ranking FIFA official caused payments of $616,000, $1,600,000, and $7,784,000 – totaling $10 million – to be wired from a FIFA account in Switzerland to a Bank of America correspondent account in New York, New York, for credit to accounts held in the names of CFU and CONCACAF, but controlled by the defendant JACK WARNER, at Republic Bank in Trinidad and Tobago.
198. The third payment, in the amount of $250,000, was made by check drawn on an account held in the name of CFU at Republic Bank in Trinidad and Tobago. The check was delivered to Co-Conspirator #1 by another individual who traveled by airplane from Trinidad and Tobago to JFK International Airport in Queens, New York, and then to CONCACAF’s headquarters in New York, New York, where he delivered the check to Co-Conspirator #1. A representative of FirstCaribbean International Bank in the Bahamas, where Co-Conspirator #1 held another account, subsequently traveled by airplane to New York, landing at Kennedy Airport. After arriving, the bank representative traveled to New York, New York, where he took custody of the check. He subsequently traveled to the Bahamas and, on or about May 3, 2011, deposited the check into Co-Conspirator #1’s
221. On or about July 14, 2011, after the scheme had been uncovered and the defendant JACK WARNER resigned from his soccer-related positions, Co-Conspirator #7 caused $1,211,980 to be wired from an account that he controlled at Doha Bank in Qatar, to a correspondent account at Citibank, for credit to an account held in WARNER’s name at Intercommercial Bank in Trinidad and Tobago. Prior to receiving the funds in this account, WARNER attempted to have them wired instead to the bank accounts of two of his family members, including Co-Conspirator #14, and a member of his staff, but the bank where those accounts were held refused to accept the funds.
225. Near the end of the negotiations, Co-Conspirator #4 met with the defendant COSTAS TAKKAS, a close associate of the defendant JEFFREY WEBB, in Hungary. TAKKAS told CoConspirator #4 that WEBB wanted a $3 million bribe in exchange for his agreement to cause the CFU contract to be awarded to Traffic USA. Co-Conspirator #4 agreed. When he returned to the United States, Co-Conspirator #4 advised the defendant AARON DAVIDSON, at the time the Traffic USA president, of the bribe.
227. Separately, Traffic USA entered into a partnership with Sports Marketing Company C, a multinational sports marketing company based in Europe with affiliates in the Case 1:15-cr-00252-RJD Document 1 Filed 05/20/15 Page 97 of 164 PageID #: 97 96 United States, to jointly exploit the CFU World Cup qualifier rights that Traffic USA was seeking to and ultimately did obtain. Co-Conspirator #4, on behalf of Traffic USA, and CoConspirator #13, Co-Conspirator #20, and Co-Conspirator #21, on behalf of Sports Marketing Company C, participated in the negotiations over the terms of the partnership. During the negotiations, Co-Conspirator #4 disclosed to Co-Conspirator #20 that Traffic USA had agreed to pay a bribe to the defendant JEFFREY WEBB to obtain the rights. Co-Conspirator #20 agreed on behalf of Sports Marketing Company C to split the cost of the bribe payment, which meant that both companies would be obligated to pay WEBB $1.5 million. that Traffic USA had agreed to pay a bribe to the defendant JEFFREY WEBB to obtain the rights. Co-Conspirator #20 agreed on behalf of Sports Marketing Company C to split the cost of the bribe payment, which meant that both companies would be obligated to pay WEBB $1.5 million.
230. On or about December 14, 2012, the remaining $500,000 of the $1.5 million promised to the defendant JEFFREY WEBB was paid by Traffic through the account of another individual, a business associate of Co-Conspirator #2, to another account controlled by the defendant COSTAS TAKKAS at Fidelity Bank in the Cayman Islands.
231. After receiving the funds, the defendant COSTAS TAKKAS wired a portion to an account in his name at Citibank in Miami. TAKKAS subsequently transferred the funds to an account in the name of a swimming pool builder at United Community Bank in Blairsville, Georgia, for the benefit of the defendant JEFFREY WEBB, who was having a pool built at his residence in Loganville, Georgia. TAKKAS transferred another portion of the funds directly from his Kosson Ventures account at Fidelity Bank in the Cayman Islands to SunTrust Bank in Georgia for WEBB’s benefit in connection with WEBB’s purchase of other real estate in Stone Mountain, Georgia.
236. Thereafter, the defendant JEFFREY WEBB and CoConspirator #4 discussed the best way to effectuate the bribe payment in a manner that would conceal its nature. Ultimately, WEBB decided to use an overseas company that manufactured soccer uniforms and soccer balls (“Soccer Uniform Company A”), the identity of which is known to the Grand Jury. Co-Conspirator #23, like the defendant COSTAS TAKKAS a close associate of WEBB, had a connection to Soccer Uniform Company A. WEBB eventually instructed Co-Conspirator #4 to submit a false invoice to Traffic USA for $1.1 million to be paid to Soccer Uniform Company A, which Co-Conspirator #4 did.
239. Again, the defendant JEFFREY WEBB directed CoConspirator #4 to solicit a bribe for WEBB in exchange for WEBB’s agreement to award the 2013 Gold Cup/Champions League Contract to Traffic USA. Though WEBB wanted more, the parties eventually settled on $2 million as the size of the bribe payment. The defendant AARON DAVIDSON and Co-Conspirator #2 agreed to the bribe payment.
249. Datisa agreed to pay $100 million in bribes to CONMEBOL officials – all of whom were also FIFA officials – in exchange for the 2013 Copa América Contract: $20 million for contract signature and $20 million for each of the four editions of the tournament. Each $20 million payment was to be divided among the bribe recipients as follows: $3 million to each of the “top” three CONMEBOL officials (the president of the confederation and the presidents of the Brazilian and Argentinian federations); $1.5 million to each of seven other CONMEBOL federation presidents; and $500,000 to an eleventh CONMEBOL official. The officials who had solicited and/or were Case 1:15-cr-00252-RJD Document 1 Filed 05/20/15 Page 107 of 164 PageID #: 107 106 to receive bribes included the defendants EUGENIO FIGUEREDO, RAFAEL ESQUIVEL, NICOLÁS LEOZ, and JOSÉ MARIA MARIN and CoConspirator #10, Co-Conspirator #11, Co-Conspirator #12, CoConspirator #24, and Co-Conspirator #25, among others.
Table 2 Copa América Centenario Scheme Bribes
Year Host Contract Price Bribe
2015 Chile $75 million $20 million [PAID]
2016 United States $112.5 million $30 million
2019 Brazil $80 million $20 million
2023 Ecuador $85 million $20 million
Total $325.5million $110million
Everyone is innocent until proven guilty. But the fact 2 sons of Jack Warner have already pleaded guilty to wire fraud, money laundering etc shows you both what kind of man was both running and ruining Caribbean football and what kind of father he was to lead his own down this road of corruption.
Tomorrow FIFA members will be voting on who their next President should be. Current President (since 1998) Sepp Blatter is likely to be victorious over his only rival Prince Ali bin Hussein of Jordan. But given that so many members implicated in the scandal are from CONCACAF and CONMEBOL, should these regions be allowed to vote tomorrow?
With the never ending scandals that have tainted FIFA for decades why are the football players so quiet on these matters? That for me is equally a disgrace. The current football players should demand a bigger say in the running of th sport. Too many old men in suits have damaged the game more than any young football player.
Football development in the Americas and the Caribbean in particular has stagnated for some time. Any improvement made seems to have been soley in the bank balances of certain senior officials in this poorly funded region.
Thanks for reading.