Seized money returned to governing bodies for the good of the game

More than $200million (£145.6m) in stolen funds relating to the 2015 scandal will be returned to FIFA and two other continental governing bodies.

The money was seized from the bank accounts of former officials who were prosecuted for corruption and will be returned to FIFA, CONCACAF and CONMEBOL by the United States Department of Justice.

The remission will be used by the FIFA Foundation to help finance football-related projects that will have a positive impact on the community. An independent board will decide how the funds are allocated.

The scandal, which is the biggest the game has seen, saw collusion between officials from the governing bodies and sports marketing executives, with fraud, bribery, racketeering and money laundering offences committed.

It saw the end of Sepp Blatter’s reign and led to the election of Gianni Infantino, who has overhauled FIFA in the six years he has been in charge.

The Italian believes the return of the money highlights how the governing body has now moved on from being a “toxic organisation”.

“I am delighted to see that money which was illegally siphoned out of football is now coming back to be used for its proper purposes, as it should have been in the first place,” said Infantino.

“I want to sincerely thank the US Justice authorities for their efforts in this respect, for their fast and effective approach in bringing these matters to a conclusion, and also for their trust in general.

“The truth is that, thanks to their intervention back in 2015, we have been able to fundamentally change FIFA from a toxic organisation at the time, to a highly esteemed and trusted global sports governing body.

The 2015 FIFA scandal saw the end of Sepp Blatter's reign
The 2015 FIFA scandal saw the end of Sepp Blatter’s reign (Adam Davy/PA)

“Thankfully, we are well past that unfortunate period in history now and it’s great to see significant funding being put at the disposal of the FIFA Foundation, which can positively impact so many people across the football world, especially through youth and community programmes.

“Since 2016, FIFA and the United States Department of Justice have been in close co-operation, and I believe this decision also acknowledges the significant progress we have made in terms of good governance and transparency, all of which was discussed and presented by FIFA officials and me in meetings with the authorities.

“Today, they know that with the FIFA Foundation this money is in good hands and will serve the purpose it is intended for.

“On behalf of all future beneficiaries around the world, I would like to thank the US authorities for the trust placed in FIFA, and we will make sure that these funds are used properly and bring tangible benefits for people who really need it.”

Acting US Attorney Jacquelyn M. Kasulis for the Eastern District of New York said: “Today’s announcement confirms that money stolen by corrupt soccer officials and sports marketing executives through fraud and greed will be returned to where it belongs and used to benefit the sport.

“From the start, this investigation and prosecution have been focused on bringing wrongdoers to justice and restoring ill-gotten gains to those who work for the benefit of the beautiful game. Our office, together with our law enforcement partners, will always work to compensate victims of crime.”