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Justice Begins Paying Victims of FIFA Soccer Rights Scandal

England fans hold up a banner saying - Blatter late than never - in relation to the recent suspension of Sepp Blatter before the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier match between England and Estonia at Wembley Stadium on October 9, 2015 in London, United Kingdom.
(Image credit: Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)

The Justice Department has signed off on the first $32.3 million tranche of over $200 million in forfeited funds to FIFA and others from widespread corruption in the securing of TV and other media and marketing rights for international soccer.

Justice said well over that initial amount has been seized as part of the government's prosecution of that corruption. The money is being remitted to FIFA, the world soccer organizing body; CONCACAF, which oversees soccer in North and Central America; and CONMEBOL, which oversees South America, as well as various other soccer federations.

According to Justice, sports marketing companies paid bribes and kickbacks to soccer officials in exchange for the rights to various tournaments and events.

The $32.3 million is the beginning of the process of getting funds to the victims of the FIFA bribery scandal and out of the hands of the corrupt officials that took it.

“Not one official in this investigation seemed to care about the damage being done to a sport that millions around the world revere," said Michael J. Driscoll, assistant director-in-charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office. "The only silver lining is the money will now help underprivileged people who need it, not the wealthy executives who just wanted it to get richer. Our work isn’t finished, and our promise to those who love the game – we won’t give up until everyone sees justice for what they’ve done.”

This week's initial tranche of money comes from the forfeited assets and stems from a May 2015 indictment of 14 FIFA officials and sports marketing executives with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering, plus a follow-on indictment of even more officials.

Many of the defendants were ordered to forfeit their ill-gotten gains and Justice is authorized to distribute forfeited assets through a remission process to victims of the crimes, including to the soccer organizations defrauded by corrupt executives.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.