Football: I abused my official Fifa position for bribes, admits Jeffrey Webb

Jeffrey Webb, a former Fifa vice-president, admitted to seven charges, including money laundering and receiving bribes for TV rights.
Jeffrey Webb, a former Fifa vice-president, admitted to seven charges, including money laundering and receiving bribes for TV rights.

LONDON • Jeffrey Webb, the disgraced former Fifa vice-president, has admitted abusing his position to obtain bribes and said that it was common practice for sports marketing companies to pay kickbacks to football officials.

The transcript of Webb's guilty plea has been released by a judge in New York after he admitted to seven charges, including money laundering and receiving bribes for television rights.

"I abused my position to obtain bribes and kickbacks for my personal benefit," Webb, who holds dual Cayman Islands-British citizenship, told the judge.

He was the most high-profile of the officials arrested in a swoop on a luxury hotel in Zurich in May last year.

He said that he was told in 2012 that sports marketing companies would offer "side payments" or bribes in exchange for commercial rights to football matches.

"I believed that such offers were common in this business," he said. "I deeply regret my participation in this illegal conduct."

THIS WAS WHAT THEY TOLD ME

I believed that such offers were common in this business. I deeply regret my participation in this illegal conduct.

JEFFREY WEBB, a former Concacaf president, on being told in 2012 that sports marketing companies would offer "side payments" in exchange for TV rights

The former Cayman Islands banker, who was president of the Concacaf federation of countries in the Caribbean, North and Central America, confessed to receiving bribes for the sale of commercial rights for 2018 and 2022 World Cup qualifying matches, and the Copa America Centenario tournament, which will be held in June.

He confessed to conspiring to defraud his employers and conspiracy to commit money-laundering offences.

Fifa's lawyers have demanded an audit of Webb's assets, saying that he may not have fully declared them to the court.

The 51-year-old has five properties registered in his and his wife's names and, in July, he also handed over to the court 11 watches, including four Rolexes and a Cartier Roadster.

The court heard that he has a heart condition, and since November has been allowed to leave his home from 8am to 5pm to care for his toddler son, but must stay within a 20-mile (32km) radius and be subject to electronic tagging.

His wife is a doctor in Atlanta, making Webb "solely responsible" for their child, the court heard. "He is a busy man," Judge Raymond Dearie said.

The guilty pleas of two other officials were also released - Alejandro Burzaco, an Argentine-Italian marketing executive, and Jose Margulies, a Brazilian intermediary.

US prosecutors have, in total, accused 42 individuals of soliciting and receiving tens of millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 21, 2016, with the headline 'I abused my position for bribes: Webb'. Print Edition | Subscribe