US Attorney General Loretta Lynch Indicts 16 More FIFA Officials

Posted on: December 4, 2015, 12:54h. 

Last updated on: December 4, 2015, 12:54h.

FIFA corruption Loretta Lynch DOJ
The investigation into FIFA corruption expanded this week after US Attorney General Loretta Lynch filed charges against 16 additional officials. (Image: Don Emmert/Getty)

United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch is in the midst of disrupting perhaps one of the largest criminal syndicates in recent history as she leads the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigation into FIFA, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association.

On Thursday, Lynch unsealed a 92-count indictment against 16 defendants related to the continued FIFA corruption case.

That brings the total number of defendants to 30 since the DOJ swarmed FIFA last May.

This week’s accused stem from CONCACAF, FIFA’s North and Central America arm, and CONMEBOL, the South America division. The defendants are being charged with racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracies.

“The Department of Justice is committed to ending the rampant corruption we have alleged amidst the leadership of international soccer, not only because of the scale of the schemes, or the brazenness and breadth of the operation required to sustain such corruption, but also because of the affront to international principles that this behavior represents,” Lynch said. “The betrayal of trust set forth here is outrageous.”

$200 Million Exchanged

Lynch maintains that leaders among FIFA besought bribes in exchange for various rights including the hosting of the World Cup and qualifiers for soccer’s marquee tournament held every four years.

According to DOJ estimations, $200 million was solicited over the last 24 years.

The prosecution indicts both CONCACAF and CONMEBOL sitting presidents along with several members who co-serve on FIFA’s executive committee.

Also in the indictment was Jeffrey Webb’s guilty plea, the former FIFA vice president and CONCACAF president admitting to racketeering, conspiracy, three counts of wire fraud, and three counts of money laundering. Webb has agreed to forfeit $6.7 million.

“We are determined to put a stop to bribery and corruption in international soccer and to make room for a new era of integrity and reform,” US Attorney Robert Capers of the Eastern District of New York said. “This indictment is the latest step in that effort, but our work is not done.”

Future of FIFA

The charges brought by the DOJ came at an opportune time as FIFA is currently assembled in Switzerland for two days of meetings in Zurich. The most important item of discussion is overhauling the organization through extensive reforms.

As Lynch’s office brought new charges against FIFA associates, soccer’s governing body voted unanimously to implement a series of proposals to refurbish the organization.

Included in the changes is a four-year term limit for the presidency, outgoing President Sepp Blatter has been holding the reigns since 1998.

Additional reforms embrace a separation between political and management committees, diversity, independent members, integrity checks, and an overall greater transparency.

“These reforms are moving FIFA towards improved governance, greater transparency and more accountability,” the FIFA Executive Committee said in a press release. “They mark a milestone on our path towards restoring FIFA’s credibility as a modern, trusted and professional sports organization.”

Restoring credibility will be a long and difficult road for FIFA with Lynch in charge of the DOJ. She shows no signs of slowing her thorough investigation into the managing of the world’s most popular sport.

“The Department of Justice is committed to ending the rampant corruption we have described amidst the leadership of international soccer,” Lynch affirmed.