Ex-FIFA boss bribed by ‘Russian oligarch’ over 2018 World Cup bid – report claims

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has published claims that a former FIFA President was bribed by a “Russian oligarch” to ensure Russia won the right to host the 2018 World Cup.

Russia was selected as the host nation for the tournament ahead of England, as well as joint bids from the Netherlands and Belgium, and Spain and Portugal, following a vote in 2010.

Allegations of corruption and collusion have surrounded the bidding process for both the 2018 World Cup and the 2022 tournament, which was awarded to Qatar.

A 430-page report, published by the DOJ on Monday to review the FBI’s investigation into potential Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, contained details from a previous report by a former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, which alleged that a Russian oligarch had interfered in the bidding process for the 2018 World Cup.

The DOJ report read: “In July 2011, Steele provided a report that summarised an alleged conversation between then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in which, according to the report, Putin acknowledged that a Russian oligarch had bribed the President of FIFA so that Russia could win the right to host the World Cup tournament in 2018.

“Second, in 2012, Steele introduced the FBI to two British officials with information concerning Russia’s alleged efforts to bribe FIFA executives.

“Our review of Steele’s Delta file also revealed that Steele furnished the FBI with a report dated June 2015 that quoted a Kremlin official as having admitted that the Kremlin bribed FIFA executives in order to secure rights to host the 2018 World Cup.”

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter is not named in the report, but was in the role at the time of the vote in 2010.

Blatter is currently serving a six-year ban from football for approving a £1.3m payment to former UEFA president Michel Platini, who has also been banned from the sport for four years.

Blatter previously claimed in 2015 that an agreement was put in place for Russia to host the 2018 World Cup before the 2010 vote took place.

Alexei Sorokin, the organiser of the Russian bid, previously told Sky Sports News in 2017 that they did nothing wrong in the bidding process.

Sorokin insisted computers had not been deliberately destroyed by the Russians before allegations of corruption could be properly investigated.

On Monday, Russia was banned from all major sporting events for the next four years by the World Anti-Doping Agency after it concluded that Moscow had tampered with laboratory data by planting fake evidence and deleting files linked to positive doping tests that could have helped identify drug cheats. – Sky Sports

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