FIFA admits to World Cup bribery, demands money from U.S. government

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Gianni Infantino-led FIFA is taking its reputation fight in a different direction, according to an Associated Press report.

After months and months of disgraced president Sepp Blatter protesting FIFA’s innocence and claiming an inability to monitor its confederations, the organization is angry, acknowledging wrongs, and seeking recompense.

[ MORE: Quotes from the FIFA release admitting bribery ]

In a 22-page claim filed with the United States Attorney’s Office, FIFA admits to that bribes were a part of awarding World Cups. It also wants part of the money the U.S. is collecting from guilty officials.

From the Associated Press:

FIFA claims it is the victim of corrupt individuals, despite widespread criticism that bribe-taking was embedded in its culture in the presidencies of Joao Havelange and Sepp Blatter, who was forced from office after 17 years by the current scandal.

FIFA’s grab for a share of the money sets up a battle with two of its regional confederations — CONMEBOL, the South American confederation, and CONCACAF, the body running soccer in North America. It was officials and competitions from those regions that were most involved in the corruption crisis.

It also signals a change in strategy for FIFA, after months of senior officials distancing Zurich from the scandal, instead blaming confederations which are beyond its control.

Now it’s important to note that the more than $190 million in damages FIFA is looking to reclaim is relatively small potatoes compared to the $4 billion hauled in as a result of the 2014 World Cup.

It’s even asking for money it spent on officials like Chuck Blazer, Jack Warner and Jeffrey Webb, claiming they took money that was supposed to be allocated to development and used it on personal desires.

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We’re in a tricky space with FIFA. There are many who would like to believe a new direction is capable under Infantino despite his allegiance to embattled ex-UEFA president Michel Platini.

[ MORE: Vieira says NYCFC job not a stepping stone to Europe ]

So is FIFA largely making a stand and statement against its former administration, or simply trying to get money from a U.S. government that has ratcheted up FIFA’s infamy levels? Time will tell.