FIFA has admitted for the first time that bribery practices were used and votes were bought during past World Cup bids, the Associated Press reports.
By making this admission, FIFA is seeking the return of more than $190 million it says was wrongfully taken from the organization by corrupt individuals. FIFA submitted this claim to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York on Tuesday in hopes the money seized by the U.S. from soccer officials who have pleaded guilty in ongoing corruption cases will be returned to the organization.
“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 in a statement on Wednesday. “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.
“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.”
In his acceptance speech as newly elected FIFA president, Infantino promised to “restore the image of FIFA.” His first major move as president is an attempt by FIFA to distinguish itself from the corrupt leaders who have been arrested or exiled from the organization.
Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and former UEFA president Michel Platini were banned from world soccer for six years for corruption violations.
Despite the admission that bribery was a factor in the awarding of upcoming World Cup host cities, FIFA has not indicated it would re-vote.