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NEW YORK, May 27. /TASS/. A number of high-ranking officials at the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) have been using their positions to solicit bribes from sports marketers in exchange for the commercial rights to their football tournaments since 1991, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said on Wednesday.
"Beginning in 1991, two generations of soccer officials, including the then-presidents of two regional soccer confederations under FIFA - the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, known as CONCACAF, which includes the United States, and the South American Football Confederation, or CONMEBOL, which represents organized soccer in South America," Lynch told a new conference.
"They did this over and over, year after year, tournament after tournament," she said.
"The criminal activity we have identified did not solely involve sports marketing, Lynch said. "Around 2004, bidding began for the opportunity to host the 2010 World Cup, which was ultimately awarded to South Africa - the first time the tournament would be held on the African continent. But even for this historic event, FIFA executives and others corrupted the process by using bribes to influence the hosting decision."
"While at least one FIFA executive served as CONCACAF president without pay, there was little altruism involved, as he alone is alleged to have taken more than $10 million in bribes over a 19-year period and amassed a personal fortune from his ill-gotten gains," Lynch added.
She said that no charges had been brought against FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
The US Department of Justice said in its statement earlier in the day that a total of 14 people (nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives) were indicted for racketeering conspiracy and corruption.
"A 47-count indictment was unsealed early this morning in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, charging 14 defendants with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies, among other offenses, in connection with the defendants’ participation in a 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer," the statement from the US justice body said.
FIFA plunged into the unprecedented corruption scandal on the eve of the organization’s annual congress in Zurich on May 28-29 with current President Sepp Blatter expected to be re-elected on Friday for another four-year term.