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MOSCOW, RUSSIA - DECEMBER 01: FIFA President, Gianni Infantino (L) and Vladimir Putin President of Russia (R) speaks to the crowd during the Final Draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia at the State Kremlin Palace on December 1, 2017 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

FIFA Paid Nearly $10M To Ruling Council In 2017, New Reports Show

World soccer’s governing body may have promised many different types of reform, but it has now been revealed that FIFA paid members of its ruling council almost $10 million last year.

FIFA Council Payouts scandal news

Three individuals with direct knowledge of the payments have stated FIFA, a nonprofit, paid each of the elected representatives on its 37-member council $250,000 salaries, plus tens of thousands of dollars more in travel expenses, in 2017. The people requested not to be identified because they were not permitted to disclose the information before FIFA officially releases it in March.

The New York Times reports that “That level of compensation  — for a council that is scheduled to meet only three times this year — far exceeds payments for similar work at some of the world’s largest for-profit companies.”

The Times also noted these payouts seem to run contrary to the pledges FIFA president Gianni Infantino repeatedly made since his 2016 election to restore the organization’s credibility by instituting fiscal discipline.

Wit the World Cup in Russia just five months away, FIFA will now strive to do nearly whatever it takes to persuade fans, media partners and sponsors that it is no longer the same body plagued by corruption that it was just two years ago.

In 2015, several top FIFA executives, including then-president Sepp Blatter, were charged, indicted and forced to resign following revelations of bribes and other types of secret payments they received. Among the other figures who resigned were Blatter’s top deputy Jérôme Valcke and Blatter’s one-time apparent successor, French former player, manager and UEFA President Michel Platini. 

“There should be, especially for a nonprofit, some sort of justification for the sum,” said Alexandra Wrage, president of the corporate governance adviser Trace International.

Wrage previously advised FIFA about corporate governance reforms before quitting in 2013. She has since become one of the body’s fiercest critics.

“I don’t see the justification in the résumés, I don’t see the justification in market pressure,” Wrage said of the payments to the board members. “It’s hard to understand.”

FIFA’s board is drawn from soccer’s six regional confederations. In addition to their salaries, members receive additional $150 per diem payments as well as business-class travel and accommodation while attending FIFA meetings and events.

The Times also reported this: “According to the accounting firm KPMG, the average pay for executives who perform similar roles for Britain’s top 100 listed companies is 60,000 pounds, or about $81,000. Lodestone Global, which helps firms to design boards of directors, stated in a report that analyzed 331 companies in 39 countries that nonexecutive directors for private companies of comparable size to FIFA should receive about $48,000 a year.”

In comparison, the International Olympic Committee, another Swiss-based global sports entity, pays executive board members and commission chairmen and chairwomen $900 a day when working or traveling on Olympic business. Board members for European soccer’s governing body UEFA reportedly receive $100,000 a year.

FIFA has also been plagued by major financial losses. Last spring, the organization announced a $369 million loss for 2016 and said it expected that figure to increase in 2017.

Infantino’s 2017 salary and that of his deputy, the secretary general Fatma Samoura, also will be reported at the meeting in March. The Swiss-Italian president initially worked without a salary after calling an offer of $2 million insulting. The sum is $1 million less than Blatter had earned in his final year. Infantino later accepted $1.5 million for 2016, though FIFA agreed to restore a bonus component starting in 2017. The size of that bonus is unknown.

Following the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Blatter received a $12 million bonus. Had he completed his presidential term in 2019, he would have been awarded another performance bonus.

In May, Reuters reported that FIFA’s council was set to support the U.S., Mexico and Canada’s joint bid to co-host the 2026 World Cup. Though this bid has not been formally approved, it is considered likely to be backed and the three nations have already released a preliminary list of 32 cities that could host the soccer games, a list that was narrowed down from 41 cities.

The 2026 tournament, which will follow the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, is set to be the first that will include 48 nations competing instead of 32, a rule change instituted by Infantino.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA – DECEMBER 01: FIFA President, Gianni Infantino (L) and Vladimir Putin President of Russia (R) speaks to the crowd during the Final Draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia at the State Kremlin Palace on December 1, 2017 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

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Written by Pablo Mena