MOSCOW, April 7. /TASS/. The world’s governing football body, FIFA, will request from the US Department of Justice additional information regarding alleged cases of graft among its officials during the selection of the host countries for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, FIFA said in a statement provided to TASS on Tuesday.
On Monday, the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York published an indictment, which claims in particular that some high-ranking officials with the world’s governing body of football, FIFA, were bribed in exchange for their votes in support of Russia and Qatar to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, respectively.
According to the statement posted on the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, "schemes alleged in the Indictment relate to the payment and receipt of bribes and kickbacks in connection with, among other things, contracts for the media and marketing rights to additional soccer events and FIFA’s selection of the countries to host various editions of the World Cup, including the World Cup hosted by Russia in 2018 and the World Cup scheduled to be hosted by Qatar in 2022."
In response to a request from TASS to comment on the indictment, the world’s governing body of football stated: "FIFA supports all investigations into alleged acts of criminal wrong-doing regarding either domestic or international football competitions, and will continue to provide full cooperation to law enforcement officials investigating such matters."
"FIFA is closely following these investigations and all related developments in the legal processes ongoing in the United States and other parts of the world," the statement reads.
"It is important to point out that FIFA has itself been accorded victim status in the US criminal proceedings and senior FIFA officials are in regular contact with the US Department of Justice. Following the latest indictment, FIFA will ask the DOJ [the US Department of Justice] for further information on these matters."
The global football organization also pointed out that "The FIFA Ethics Committee has already imposed sanctions, including life bans, on football officials mentioned in this process."
"So far as FIFA is concerned, should any acts of criminal wrong-doing by football officials be established, the individuals in question should be subject to penal sanctions," the statement from FIFA reads. "As the respective criminal cases are ongoing we are not in a position to comment further for the time being."
FIFA earlier conducted an investigation into the current issue and did not find violations in the selection of the host countries for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier in the day that "Russia was granted the right to host the world championship on an absolutely legal basis," adding that Russia categorically denies allegations of bribery.
Alexei Sorokin, the former director general of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) Russia-2018, told TASS he viewed the recent indictment on the case of bribery among FIFA officials as another attempt of a smear campaign against the Russian bid for the 2018 World Cup.
A chain of corruption scandals rocked FIFA almost five years ago. Everything flared up with an unprecedented scandal on the morning of May 27, 2015, one day before the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich, where nine of the organization’s high-ranking officials were arrested in a hotel in Switzerland on bribery, money laundering and corruption charges. In all, charges were later pressed against 14 FIFA officials.
Ex-FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who was 79 years old at that time, FIFA’s then-Secretary General Jerome Valcke and then-president of UEFA Michel Platini were dismissed from their posts in the course of the notorious corruption scandal.
2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia
Russia won the bid to host the 2018 World Cup at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich on December 2, 2010. The victory came following a tight race against England’s bid, and two other joint bids: one from Portugal and Spain and the other on behalf of Belgium and the Netherlands.
The country hosted its first-ever FIFA World Cup in 2018, which kicked off in Moscow with a remarkable opening show at Luzhniki Stadium on the evening of June 14 and ended with a spectacular final match, played also at Luzhniki Stadium, where France confidently defeated Croatia 4-2 to win the much-coveted World Cup Trophy.
Russia provided 11 host cities across the country as venues for the matches of the 2018 World Cup and they were Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino said after the world championship that Russia had staged "the best World Cup ever." According to the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism, some 2.9 million foreign visitors arrived in Russia for the FIFA World Cup.
In late December 2018, FIFA announced in its statement that the World Cup in Russia set a new record as far as audiences go in the history of world football championships since over half of the world’s population watched the matches on TV at home, out of home or on digital platforms.