Corruption turmoil far from over
FIFA head’s right-hand man arrested
More than a year since FIFA declared the end of its corruption turmoil, the optimism has proved misguided. The latest arrest, of the man who is one heartbeat from the presidency of world soccer, demonstrated that on Tuesday.
Fresh wrongdoing, still reaching into the heart of power in FIFA, undercuts Gianni Infantino’s pledge to set the governing body on a new path to probity after the misdeeds of the Sepp Blatter era.
Here is a look at fresh offshoots from the corruption scandal that burst into the open when several soccer officials were arrested at a Zurich hotel on Tuesday: ANGEL MARIA VILLAR As FIFA’s senior vice-president with 19 years’ experience on world soccer’s decision-making body, Angel Maria Villar is one rung down the ladder from Infantino.
Now Villar is fighting accusations of improper management, misappropriation of funds, corruption, and falsifying documents as part of a probe into the finances of the Spanish federation he heads. The 67-year-old Villar was arrested in Madrid on Tuesday along with his son, whose business ventures he is accused of helping to profit from matches arranged for 2010 World Cup winner Spain. SHEIKH AHMAD The longtime Olympic power broker and election “kingmaker” was forced out of his position of power in soccer in disgrace after being directly implicated in a bribery plot uncovered by American investigators. Despite denying wrongdoing, the sheikh quit the election to remain on the FIFA Council ahead of the May election. RICHARD LAI Lai, an American citizen from Guam, pleaded guilty to 2015 wire fraud conspiracy charges related to taking about $1 US million in bribes, including at least $850,000 from Kuwaiti officials. The scheme was to buy influence and help recruit other Asian soccer officials prepared to take bribes. VITALY MUTKO As head of the 2018 World Cup, Vitaly Mutko is central to the success of FIFA’s showpiece event and enjoys privileged access to Infantino and Russian President Vladimir Putin. That is despite mounting evidence uncovered by World Anti-Doping Agency investigators of how he subverted sport through his role in the scheme to coverup doping. As Russian deputy prime minister, Mutko was banned from re-election to the FIFA Council this year on grounds of political interference.