Global football body FIFA is going after Caymanian Jeffrey Webb and other former leaders caught up in the global corruption probe in the sport.
FIFA has applied to United States authorities seeking tens of millions of dollars in compensation from ex-officials indicted in the sport’s biggest graft scandal for damage done to its reputation and business interests.
FIFA announced on Wednesday (16 March) it was also seeking repayment of salaries and a full audit of a former top official it says has continued to live an “extravagant lifestyle” while on bail from a New York Court. That is believed to be Webb, the former FIFA Vice-President and President of CONCACAF and the Cayman Islands Football Association who pleaded guilty in the US last year to several counts of fraud.
FIFA lawyers wrote in a letter to U.S. prosecutors that Webb, who is charged in alleged bribery schemes, was living an “extravagant lifestyle” that included an expensive, casino-themed birthday party for his wife since his release on bond.
The Swiss-based body, its global administration shaken by graft charges and tales of lavish spending that toppled its former head, said its U.S. lawyers had filed a restitution request on Tuesday with federal prosecutors in New York.
In the document and an accompanying letter published by FIFA, it demanded return of salaries and payment of damages.
“The defendants grossly abused their positions of trust to enrich themselves…(and have) deeply tarnished the FIFA brand and impaired FIFA’s ability to use its resources for positive actions throughout the world,” the document said.
Ex-officials who have pleaded guilty have already agreed to pay more than $190 million in forfeiture, according to U.S. authorities.
“These funds should be used to compensate the victims of the defendants’ crimes, particularly FIFA and its member associations and confederations,” FIFA said.
The very future of FIFA has been put in question by the scandal, with some demanding its abolition and replacement. The move for recompense casts FIFA for the first time, under its new president, prominently as plaintiff and victim.
In all, 42 sports officials, executives and corporate entities have been charged in the United States under U.S. bribery and money laundering laws. The defendants include former members of FIFA’s all-powerful executive committee and former heads of national and continental governing bodies.
FIFA’s ethics committee banned Blatter for six years, and last month FIFA elected a new president, Gianni Infantino, and enacted changes to its governance structure in an attempt to stamp out corruption.
FIFA also said it had incurred substantial legal costs and was entitled to restitution for its attorney fees and similar costs that directly flowed from the investigations.