News Americas, BROOKLYN, N.Y., Weds. May 27, 2015: Trinidad & Tobago’s former minister of government and soccer big wig Jack Warner was among nine other FIFA officials this morning indicted in a Brooklyn, New York federal court.
The 47-count indictment charges Warner, the former FIFA vice president and executive committee member, CONCACAF president, CFU president, and Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) special adviser, and several others, with racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracies, among other offenses, in connection with participation in a 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer.
Jeffrey Webb, the Cayman Islands-born FIFA vice president and executive committee member; CONCACAF president, Caribbean Football Union (CFU) executive committee member, and Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) president, was also charged by U.S. federal authorities and arrested by Swiss authorities for the US government.
Also indicted by the US DOJ are several Latin American soccer officials including:
Eduardo Li, current FIFA executive committee member-elect, CONCACAF executive committee member, and Costa Rican soccer federation (FEDEFUT) president;
Julio Rocha, current FIFA development officer and former Central American Football Union (UNCAF) president and Nicaraguan soccer federation (FENIFUT) president;
British-born Costas Takkas, current attaché to the CONCACAF president and former CIFA general secretary; Eugenio Figueredo, current FIFA vice president and executive committee member and former CONMEBOL president and Uruguayan soccer federation (AUF) president;
Rafael Esquivel, current CONMEBOL executive committee member and Venezuelan soccer federation (FVF) president
Brazilian José Maria Marin, current member of the FIFA organizing committee for the Olympic football tournaments and former CBF president;
Paraguay national Nicolás Leoz, former FIFA executive committee member and CONMEBOL president.
The indictment alleges that, between 1991 and the present, the defendants corrupted the FIFA soccer enterprise by engaging in various criminal activities, including fraud, bribery, and money laundering.
Two generations of soccer officials abused their positions of trust for personal gain, frequently through an alliance with unscrupulous sports marketing executives who shut out competitors and kept highly lucrative contracts for themselves through the systematic payment of bribes and kickbacks, the indictment claims.
The soccer officials are charged with conspiring to solicit and receive well over $150 million in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for their official support of the sports marketing executives who agreed to make the unlawful payments.
Most of the schemes alleged in the indictment relate to the solicitation and receipt of bribes and kickbacks by soccer officials from sports marketing executives in connection with the commercialization of the media and marketing rights associated with various soccer matches and tournaments, including FIFA World Cup qualifiers in the CONCACAF region, the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the CONCACAF Champions League, the jointly organized CONMEBOL/CONCACAF Copa América Centenario, the CONMEBOL Copa América, the CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores, and the Copa do Brasil, which is organized by the Brazilian national soccer federation (CBF).
Other alleged schemes relate to the payment and receipt of bribes and kickbacks in connection with the sponsorship of CBF by a major U.S. sportswear company, the selection of the host country for the 2010 World Cup, and the 2011 FIFA presidential election.
“The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States,” said new US Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “It spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks. And it has profoundly harmed a multitude of victims, from the youth leagues and developing countries that should benefit from the revenue generated by the commercial rights these organizations hold, to the fans at home and throughout the world whose support for the game makes those rights valuable. Today’s action makes clear that this Department of Justice intends to end any such corrupt practices, to root out misconduct, and to bring wrongdoers to justice – and we look forward to continuing to work with other countries in this effort.”
Warner’s sons Daryll and Daryan have already taken guilty pleas. On July 15, 2013, Daryll Warner, a former FIFA development officer, pled guilty to a two-count information charging him with wire fraud and the structuring of financial transactions.
On October 25, 2013, Daryan Warner, pled guilty to a three-count information charging him with wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and the structuring of financial transactions. Daryan Warner forfeited over $1.1 million around the time of his plea and agreed to pay a second forfeiture money judgment at the time of sentencing.
FIFA is composed of 209 member associations, each representing organized soccer in a particular nation or territory, including the United States and four of its overseas territories. FIFA also recognizes six continental confederations that assist it in governing soccer in different regions of the world. The U.S. Soccer Federation is one of 41 member associations of the confederation known as CONCACAF, which has been headquartered in the United States throughout the period charged in the indictment. The South American confederation, called CONMEBOL, is also a focus of the indictment.
As alleged in the indictment, one key way the soccer federation derives revenue is to commercialize the media and marketing rights associated with soccer events and tournaments. The organizing entity that owns those rights – as FIFA and CONCACAF do with respect to the World Cup and the Gold Cup, their respective flagship tournaments – sells them to sports marketing companies, often through multi-year contracts covering multiple editions of the tournaments.
The sports marketing companies, in turn, sell the rights downstream to TV and radio broadcast networks, major corporate sponsors, and other sub-licensees who want to broadcast the matches or promote their brands. The revenue generated from these contracts is substantial: according to FIFA, 70 percent of its $5.7 billion in total revenues between 2011 and 2014 was attributable to the sale of TV and marketing rights to the 2014 World Cup.
Warner, who now heads the Independent Liberal Party in Trinidad, this morning insisted he is innocent of all charges.