FIFA Investigation Finds Top Execs Awarded Themselves Nearly $80 Million
Fédération Internationale de Football Association’s (FIFA) troubles are far from over. Last year, U.S. authorities indicted more than twenty four FIFA executives. Currently, Swiss authorities are investigating alleged bribes paid to FIFA executives. Ethics investigations are ongoing. FIFA has been forced to remove top officials from their positions. Most recently, an internal investigation revealed even profounder problems in the FIFA organization.
FIFA hired U.S. law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan to investigate corruption allegations during the past year. According to partner Bill Burck, “evidence appears to reveal a coordinated effort by three former top officials of FIFA to enrich themselves through annual salary increases, World Cup bonuses and other incentives totaling more than [$79.7 million]—in just the last five years.” FIFA’s media release further provided that the investigated produced evidence that “raise[d] serious questions about the way a series of problematic contract amendments in favour of Mr. Blatter, Mr. Kattner and former Secretary General Valcke were approved.”
Under intense scrutiny is ex-President Sepp Blatter, former Secretary-General Jerome Valcke, and Deputy Secretary-General Markus Kattner. Blatter is suspended from football for six years. Valcke is banned from football for twelve years. FIFA fired both Valcke and Kattner already because of ticket scandals and payments received.
The investigation published that Blatter gave himself an $11 million bonus for 2010 World Cup, $12 million bonus from the 2014 World Cup, a $12 million performance bonus if he completed his four-year presidential term (2015-2019), and annual bonuses up to $1.5 million. Valcke was awarded $10 million for the 2014 World Cup and would have earned $11 million for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Further, Blatter’s actions in approving contract extensions and indemnification clauses for Valcke and Kattner “were potentially criminal.” After the investigation’s release, Blatter’s attorney published a statement saying, “[w]e look forward to showing FIFA that Mr. Blatter’s compensation payments were proper, fair and in line with the heads of major professional sports leagues around the world.”
Previously, FIFA and its attorneys advocated that the organization is the victim in this scandal; the real villains are other soccer organizations and a few bad apples. Following the investigation, and the top executive’s likely guilt, this may become a challenging legal position. Other executives, such as the interim president and current FIFA president, may face blowback because of their peripheral roles in this matter.