Fifa has admitted for the first time that bribes were paid during the vote for the awarding of the 1998 and 2010 World Cups as they seek to reclaim "tens of millions of dollars" pocketed illegally by some of their members and other officials.
Football's world governing body has submitted a Request for Restitution to the US Attorney's Office and the US Probation Office in New York in an attempt to retrieve some of the money paid to 41 corrupt former officials from Fifa and other football organisations, including Chuck Blazer and Jack Warner.
Fifa said to date, more than $190m (£134m, €241m) in assets has already been forfeited by officials who have pleaded guilty to bribery charges in the ongoing corruption case. The organisation estimates that at a minimum of "tens of millions of dollars" were diverted from the football community illegally through bribery, kickbacks and corrupt schemes carried out by the defendants, with the figure likely to increase as the investigation continues.
Newly elected Fifa president Gianni Infantino said: "The convicted defendants abused the positions of trust they held at Fifa and other international football organisations and caused serious and lasting damage to Fifa, its member associations and the football community. The monies they pocketed belonged to global football and were meant for the development and promotion of the game. Fifa as the world governing body of football wants that money back and we are determined to get it no matter how long it takes."
In the 22-page document submitted to the US Attorney's Office, Fifa admitted multiple members of their executive Committee "abused their positions and sold their votes on multiple occasions". They named Warner and Blazer as two of those involved in a $10m payoff in exchange for votes regarding the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Fifa said the scheme was built off Warner's corrupt vote in 1992 for Morocco to host the 1998 FIFA World Cup, when he accepted a bribe from the Moroccan bid committee in exchange for his vote for Morocco.
The documents added 12 years later, the Morocco bid committee once again offered Warner and Blazer a bribe, this time of $1m. A Fifa spokesperson said: "The damage done by the defendants' greed cannot be overstated. Their actions have deeply tarnished the Fifa brand and impaired FIFA's ability to use its resources for positive actions throughout the world, and to meet its global mission of supporting and enhancing the game of football."
Fifa are now hoping to retrieve the millions of dollars the defendants "pocketed to enrich themselves" as well as their salaries, benefits and bonuses that were paid to them during their tenure at Fifa and other football organisations.
Infantino added: "The defendants diverted this money not just from Fifa but from players, coaches and fans worldwide who benefit from the programmes that Fifa runs to develop and promote football. These dollars were meant to build football fields, not mansions and pools; to buy football kits, not jewellery and cars; and to fund youth player and coach development, not to underwrite lavish lifestyles for football and sports marketing executives. When Fifa recovers this money, it will be directed back to its original purpose: for the benefit and development of international football."