Just two weeks after Gianni Infantino replaced the disgraced former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, the international governing body for soccer admitted, for the very first time, that corrupt executives sold votes in World Cup hosting bids.
Of course, the acknowledgement coming from FIFA is a huge deal. But then it isn’t, primarily because the organization considers itself a victim for taking bribes.
The organization submitted a 22-page claim to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York, seeking “tens of millions of dollars” in restitution from more than $190 million already seized from ex-executives currently charged with pocketing kickbacks.
In the document given to U.S. authorities, FIFA also explicitly accused South Africa of paying a $10 million bribe to get votes for its bid for the 2010 World Cup.
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While the sudden awakening of FIFA’s moral conscience is appreciated, it certainly does not seem honest. It’s an open secret that corruption is deeply rooted in the entire structure of FIFA — and not just a bunch of top officials. Yet, Infantino had the audacity to demand the bribe money back.
Also, after their not-so-shocking admission about South Africa, what does FIFA have to say about similar allegations over Qatar's successful 2022 World Cup bid?
Despite numerous reports of human-rights abuses by the Qatari government against its stadium-building workforce — the most shocking being the prediction that as many as 4,000 laborers could be dead by 2022 — FIFA has not pulled the international soccer tournament from Gulf country.
Last June, it was reported that Ivorian ex-FIFA executive Jacques Anouma allegedly negotiated with Qatari officials for a $1.5 million bribe in a hotel in the Angolan capital Luanda, during the Confederation of African Football’s annual congress in 2010.
Anouma and Qatar, of course, denied allegations.
But that’s exactly what South Africa said last year about its bribe scandal, and as FIFA just revealed, the country was lying
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Infantino’s admission really doesn’t count as long as he considers FIFA’s problem to be limited to a few corrupt executives. It goes beyond that.