The FBI’s investigation into FIFA’s corruption scandal has extended further to include the organization of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil last summer.
As the FBI now examines links between disgraced former Brazilian football chief Ricardo Teixeira and under-fire FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, the investigation will now encompass three of the past five World Cups and the controversial awarding of the quadrennial event to Russia (2018) and Qatar (2022).
The FIFA corruption scandal escalated Thursday as one suspect told of World Cup bribes and another promised to reveal an “avalanche” of secrets, including about FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
The storm spread around the globe with South African police opening an investigation into claims that money was paid to secure the 2010 World Cup.
Police are also looking into Australia’s bid for the 2022 World Cup, while in Venezuela investigators raided the country’s football headquarters looking for evidence against a FIFA official held in the scandal.
Following the shock resignation of Blatter on Tuesday, focus has shifted to the US investigation which led to seven FIFA officials being arrested last week in Zurich.
Evidence given by ailing whistleblower Chuck Blazer to US investigators told of attempts to buy the 1998 and 2010 World Cups hosted by France and South Africa respectively.
Now battling cancer in hospital, the disgraced former North American football supremo said in testimony released by prosecutors that FIFA executives conspired to accept bribes during bidding for the 1998 and 2010 events. Blazer has admitted to charges related to his leadership of the North and Central American body CONCACAF and membership of FIFA’s executive committee.
Under a plea deal with US prosecutors, the 70-year-old wore a hidden microphone and recorded conversations with other FIFA officials. None of the other suspects are named.
“Among other things, I agreed with other persons in or around 1992 to facilitate the acceptance of a bribe in conjunction with the selection of the host nation for the 1998 World Cup,” Blazer said in his plea.
France beat Morocco in the bidding to stage that tournament. A document detailing the charges says that Blazer was present when a co-conspirator accepted a bribe in Morocco.
A former head of France’s 1998 bid committee, Jacques Lambert, insisted “no irregularities” were committed by its officials.
Lambert said he had been told that disgraced official Jack Warner promised to back France’s bid but voted for Morocco.
Blazer went on to admit that he and “others on the FIFA executive committee” agreed to accept bribes in conjunction with the selection of South Africa to host the World Cup in 2010.
South African officials have angrily denied allegations by US investigators that they paid $10 million in bribes in 2008 to secure the rights.
The money allegedly went to Warner, a former FIFA vice-president and another former CONCACAF head. He was suspended by the world body in 2011 for corruption.
Warner promised Wednesday in his native Trinidad and Tobago to tell an “avalanche” of secrets.