Thursday, June 21, 2018
Sports

FIFA admits to World Cup hosting bribes, asks US for cash

GENEVA — While acknowledging for the first time that votes were bought in past World Cup hosting contests, FIFA is seeking to claim "tens of millions of dollars" in bribe money seized by U.S. federal prosecutors.

FIFA submitted a 22-page claim to the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York on Tuesday that seeks a big share in restitution from more than $190 million already forfeited by soccer and marketing officials who pleaded guilty in the sprawling corruption case.

Tens of millions of dollars more is likely to be collected by U.S. authorities when sentences are handed down, and from dozens of officials currently indicted but who have denied bribery charges or are fighting extradition.

FIFA claims it is the victim of corrupt individuals, despite widespread criticism that bribe-taking was embedded in its culture in the presidencies of Joao Havelange and Sepp Blatter, who was forced from office after 17 years by the current scandal.

"The convicted defendants abused the positions of trust they held at FIFA and other international football organizations and caused serious and lasting damage to FIFA," FIFA President Gianni Infantino said Wednesday in a statement. "The monies they pocketed belonged to global football and were meant for the development and promotion of the game. FIFA as the world governing body of football wants that money back and we are determined to get it no matter how long it takes."

In documents seen by the Associated Press, FIFA asks for:

• $28.2 million for years of payments, including bonuses, flights and daily expenses, to officials it now says are corrupt.

• $10 million for the "theft" of money that FIFA officials transferred as bribes to then-executive committee members to vote for South Africa as 2010 World Cup host.

• "Substantial" cost of legal bills since separate U.S. and Swiss federal probes of corruption in international soccer were revealed last May.

• Damages for harm to its reputation, plus other bribes and kickbacks for media rights to non-FIFA competitions but "which were made possible because of the value of the FIFA brand."

"FIFA has become notable for the defendants' bribery and corruption, not its many good works," lawyers for soccer's world body state in the claim. "FIFA is entitled to restitution for this harm to its business relationships, reputation and intangible property."

FIFA's grab for a share of the money sets up a battle with two of its regional confederations — CONMEBOL, the South American confederation, and CONCACAF, the body running soccer in North America. It was officials and competitions from those regions that were most involved in the corruption crisis.

It also signals a change in strategy for FIFA, after months of senior officials distancing Zurich from the scandal, instead blaming confederations which are beyond its control.

Most of the already seized money — $151.7 million — will come from Brazilian marketing executive Jose Hawilla, whose group of agencies were heavily involved with matches CONCACAF and CONMEBOL controlled but not FIFA directly.

In an initial claim for $28.2 million, FIFA specifies an amount for each of 20 men from the Americas over many years that it says it should be repaid from money held by U.S. authorities.

FIFA wants more than $5.3 million it spent on Chuck Blazer, the disgraced American official who has pleaded guilty, allocates $4.4 million of its claim for former FIFA vice president Jack Warner, and $3.5 million for Ricardo Teixeira, Havelange's former son-in-law form Brazil.

Warner, a long-time powerbroker from Trinidad and Tobago until resigning in a 2011 election bribery scandal, is identified by FIFA in its 22-page claim for receiving a $1 million bribe from 1998 World Cup bid candidate Morocco, and ensuring the $10 million bribe from South Africa was paid via a FIFA account in 2008.

FIFA claims a further $2 million for payments to Jeffrey Webb, the Cayman Islands banker who was arrested at a luxury Zurich hotel last May, and now lives at his home near Atlanta, Georgia, awaiting sentence in June.

"These dollars were meant to build football fields, not mansions and pools; to buy football kits, not jewelry and cars; and to fund youth player and coach development, not to underwrite lavish lifestyles for football and sports marketing executives," Infantino said.

It is unclear how much influence Infantino, a former lawyer, had had in the restitution claim since he was elected only three weeks ago, with strong support from voters in the Americas.

Infantino's signature pitch to voters on election day was about finances, saying bluntly "It's your money." That resonated with members of CONMEBOL and CONCACAF, who have had a combined $20 million central funding frozen by FIFA.

CONCACAF, based in Miami, has had its past three presidents implicated in the U.S. case. But it has passed wide-ranging reforms to clean up its operations, and has targeted restitution money to rebuild.

"CONCACAF views itself as a victim of a number of the offenses described in the indictments and intends to seek restitution at the appropriate time," the regional body said in a statement.

Comments
Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

HOUSTON — The Rays were engaged in a third straight tight, go-either-way battle with the defending champ Astros on Wednesday.Until they were not.A brutal seven-pitch sequence by starter Nathan Eovaldi changed everything, as he gave up three con...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

HOUSTON — The Rays saw a lot on the weeklong trip that ended with Wednesday's game against that Astros, beyond the street hustlers prowling in Times Square and the urban cowboys and girls parading through H-town.There was an impressive debuting...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Kevin Knox poised to become Tampa Bay’s highest NBA draft pick

Kevin Knox poised to become Tampa Bay’s highest NBA draft pick

Kevin Knox Sr. was watching the NFL draft 24 years ago when the phone rang. Buffalo coach Marv Levy was on the other line."Marv said they were taking me," said Knox Sr., a standout receiver at FSU.Soon after, Knox Sr. saw his name scroll across ESPN'...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Lightning’s Victor Hedman wins NHL’s Norris Trophy

Lightning’s Victor Hedman wins NHL’s Norris Trophy

Victor Hedman, a relentless part of the Lightning's push to the Eastern Conference final last season, was honored Wednesday night with the Norris Trophy, given to the NHL's top defenseman."To the Lightning organization, Mr. Jeff Vinik, Steve Yzerman ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

RHP Nathan Eovaldi said before his rough start Wednesday against the Astros that he was pitching better than his numbers showed. Well … In four starts since his six no-hit innings debut, he's 0-3 with a 6.17 ERA, allowing eight homers, four Wed...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Sports on TV/radio for Thursday, June 21

TODAYBaseballRed Sox at Twins1 p.m.MLBMets at Rockies (in progress)4 p.m.MLBCubs at Reds7 p.m.MLBBlue Jays at Angels10 p.m.MLBCollege baseball, World SeriesFlorida vs. Texas Tech8 p.m.ESPNUGolfPGA: Traveler’s Championship3:30 p.m.GolfHorsesRoyal Asco...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Report: Bucs QB Jameis Winston bracing for suspension from NFL

Report: Bucs QB Jameis Winston bracing for suspension from NFL

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston could be suspended for up to three games  next season following the league's investigation into allegations he groped a female Uber driver in Arizona in 2016, a Tallahassee radio station reported.Jeff Cameron, a&#...
Updated: 6 hours ago
For starters: Rays at Astros, with a different look

For starters: Rays at Astros, with a different look

UPDATE, 6:43: Cash said the key to how the pieced the lineup together was the opportunity to give Cron (who is struggling) and Duffy (who is doing well) back to back days off. … Looking ahead to the weekend, the Rays will use RHP Ryne Stanek as...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Phil Mickelson apologizes four days after hitting moving ball at U.S. Open

Phil Mickelson apologizes four days after hitting moving ball at U.S. Open

NEW YORK — Phil Mickelson has apologized four days after intentionally violating golf rules by hitting a moving ball on the green at the U.S. Open, saying his frustration got the best of him. The apology came Wednesday in a statement released by his ...
Published: 06/20/18
Tough questions are mere child’s play for Kevin Knox

Tough questions are mere child’s play for Kevin Knox

Growing up, Kevin Knox II watched videos or listened to motivational tapes during car rides to and from school so he could learn how to expand upon answers in interviews.That was all by design.His father, Kevin Knox Sr., knew about the spotlight as a...
Published: 06/20/18