KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Rafael Salguero, the former FIFA delegate who vanished, has reappeared as a long-time co-operating guilty witness in the FIFAGate corruption case.
Salguero is due to be sentenced in New York on Thursday after details of his admissions were revealed in court documents only unsealed this week. They show that Salguero, a former president of the Guatamala federation and ex-member of the world governing association’s old executive committee on behalf of regional body CONCACAF, has been cooperating since 2016.
He has pleaded guilty to multiple corruption charges after telling investigators that he was approached by an individual in 2010 who offered him “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in exchange for his vote in the scandal-scarred 2018/2022 World Cup bid battle.
Salguero said he was approached on a flight from Mexico to Guatemala by an Italy-based individual whose name has been redacted.
The two met with multiple times after their first encounter to discuss the bribe. Also redacted is the identity of the bid for which the individual was representating.
He told the court in 2016 that although he voted for the bid he was told to, he never received the money and did not make a trip to Italy as was suggested by the unnamed individual offering the bribe.
Salguero added: “About three or four weeks after the vote I tried calling [redacted] at the cell phone number he had given me, but he never picked up or returned the call. I tried to contact [redacted] because I wanted to tell him that I had voted for [redacted] and I wanted to meet [redacted] in Italy to collect this money that [redacted] said [redacted] had for me.”
Russia won the 2018 World Cup host rights against competition from Spain/Portugal, Belgium/Holland England. The 2022 finals were awarded t Qatar against competition from the United States, South Korea, Japan and Australia.
It has been widely reported that Qatar and Spain/Portugal had reached a vote swap agreement before the vote in December 2010. Several Latin American exco members voted for Qatar. Another supporter was reported to be Jack Warner the then president of CONCACAF.
The length, depth and breadth of the scandal burst into the open in May 2015 when seven members of the FIFA exco were arrested in Zurich on the eve of congress and detained for extradition to the US.
A year earlier FIFA reform consulant Mark Pieth had accused the “Latin language” clique within the exco – which included Salguero – with trying to halt the federation’s own inquiry into the 2018/2022 vote scandal being undertaken by investigator Michael Garcia. In 2016 Salguero was ousted from the FIFA exective committee by Costa Rica’s Eduardo Li.
A year earlier he had been named by the Swiss authorities about 10 foreign FIFA-linked individuals who were wanted for questioning as “persons providing information” about the vote. By then his name had been formally added to the list of individuals being sought by the US.
Salguero’s name was mentioned in the trial late last year of Brazil’s Jose Maria Marin and ex-CONCACAF president Juan Angel Napout. The court was told that Salguero and two other senior central American football officials had travelled to Uruguay in 2011 to negotiate million-dollar bribes.
More than 40 individuals and several marketing companies entities were indicted in the investigation by the US Justice Department and most pleaded guilty. A significant number are still awaiting sentence more than three years after the original arrests and extradition orders.