There's a big cast of characters involved in the FIFA scandal that broke yesterday, in which 14 people were indicted on charges related to corruption in world soccer. Four other people have already pled guilty and are cooperating with the investigation, while an astonishing 25 other co-conspirators have been mentioned but not yet named or charged. The United States Department of Justice isn't done investigating, and there will probably be more arrests.
The biggest piece of the investigation has to do with the television and marketing rights to multiple editions of the Gold Cup and Copa America. Companies Traffic Group, TyC, Full Play, Valente and Someron were involved, along with officials from CONCACAF, CONMEBOL and national federations. There are also separate corruption allegations centered around bribes for World Cup votes.
At one point, Traffic Group had a lawsuit pending against a company run by another defendant, but resolved it to create a scheme that made everyone a lot of money. Traffic, along with TyC and Full Play, created a new company called Datisa that was granted the worldwide commercial rights to four editions of Copa America. They allegedly paid $110 million in bribes to make this happen.
With that in mind, let's meet the characters, starting with those who have already pleaded guilty.
Chuck Blazer, former CONCACAF general secretary
You probably know Blazer because of the stories about his fleet of mobility scooters and his Trump Tower apartment for his cats. Blazer opted to flip early in the investigation because he was a U.S. citizen with a lot of tax debt and didn't really feel like screwing with the IRS. He's charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to launder money and income tax evasion. His sentence will probably be lenient since he helped the FBI gather information that led to the arrest of other key figures.
Jose Hawilla, founder of Traffic Group
Traffic dabbled in the sale of television rights and events marketing, and that side of their business is what got them in trouble with the DOJ, but it's actually not what they're most famous for. They've propped up NASL, the second division of U.S. soccer, while engaging in the soon-to-be-illegal third-party ownership of players. They also own clubs in Brazil and Portugal. Hawilla is charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to launder money and obstruction of justice. He has already agreed to forfeit an astonishing $151 million.
Daryan Warner, businessman
He has a generic title because he was never in control of a big business specifically involved in the sport. But he did do a lot to aid in the schemes of his brother and father, who worked for FIFA. He's dabbled in travel and real estate, and has been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to launder money and the structuring of financial transactions. He has already forfeited $1.1 million and will have to pay more when he's sentenced.
Daryll Warner, FIFA development officer
Jack Warner's other son was directly involved in FIFA and ran some real estate and events for his father in Trinidad and Tobago, in addition to all the criminal goodness he's charged with. Warner is charged with wire fraud and the structuring of financial transactions
And now, those who have not yet pled guilty.
Jack Warner, former FIFA vice president
Warner was notorious for his corruption well before these charges were brought. He was accused of selling 2002 World Cup tickets for profit, the Trinidad and Tobago FA didn't pay players money they were promised for the 2006 World Cup and he was forced to resign his position in 2011 after the FIFA ethics committee started investigating his alleged wrongdoing. He reportedly took bribes in briefcases full of cash. He's charged with racketeering, conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Jeffrey Webb, FIFA vice president
The highest ranking current FIFA executive named in the indictment, Webb was elected president of CONCACAF and appointed to the FIFA executive committee in 2012. Before he got into soccer full time, Webb worked at a bank in the Cayman Islands. He was singled out by the DOJ in their press conference as having taken over $10 million in bribes -- Datisa and CONMEBOL had to get him to agree to the 2016 Copa America, since it's being held in a CONCACAF country, and involving CONCACAF teams. He's charged with multiple counts of racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering.
Aaron Davidson, Traffic Sports president
And this is where the FIFA investigation starts to look bad for American soccer. In addition to being the president of Traffic Sports, Davidson is the chairman of the board of governors for NASL, the second division of U.S. soccer. Traffic has propped up the league through financial troubles, operates one team, and has an ownership stake in two others. Davidson is accused of specifically conspiring with Webb to defraud CONCACAF of well into the millions of dollars. He's charged with racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice.
Eduardo Li, Costa Rican FA president
Until his arrest, Li was set to be confirmed as a new member of FIFA's executive committee. He was elected president of the Costa Rican FA in 2007, and he became extremely popular due to the team's turnaround. He's prioritized making the senior men's national team better and got a lot of credit for their run to the World Cup quarterfinals. He's accused of, like many others in the indictment, using his position to "obtain money and property by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises." He's charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering.
Julio Rocha, FIFA development officer, Nicaraguan FA president
Rocha is the lowest profile person involved in the indictment, but he pulled in a decent amount of money for his part in these schemes. The indictment names an $88,000 payment into an account owned by Traffic and a payment of $150,000 from a co-conspirator to him. Rocha is also the former president of the Central American Football Union. He's charged with racketeering, wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering.
Costas Takkas, former Cayman Islands FA general secretary
While Takkas never held a high-up position in FIFA or CONCACAF, he's well-known for being Webb's right-hand man. He also has a company in the Cayman Islands that was allegedly used to launder money and used an expensive painting as a bribe to get a vote for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. He's charged with racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud for transactions totaling over $2 million.
Eugenio Figueredo, former CONMEBOL president
This dude has some charges all to himself! To go along with the racketeering charge everyone else has, he's accused of unlawful procurement of nationalization, as well as aiding and assisting in the preparation of false and fraudulent tax returns. He apparently filed fraudulent tax returns in five consecutive years. Before becoming CONMEBOL president, he spent 10 years as Uruguayan FA president and 20 years as a vice president of CONMEBOL.
Rafael Esquivel, Venezuelan FA president
Esquivel, who is also an executive committee member for CONMEBOL, faces a racketeering charge for accepting bribes. He got a lot -- allegedly $3.5 million from sports marketing companies. He's been president of the Venezuelan FA since 1988.
José Maria Marin, former Brazilian FA president
Brazilian fans breathed a sigh of relief when Marin, long believed to be corrupt, was named in the indictment. He was heavily criticized for his handling of the 2014 World Cup, while popular politician and legendary player Romario called Marin "one of the biggest thieves in the country" and "one of the rats that I have been denouncing for a long time". He faces charges of racketeering and conspiracy to launder money.
Nicolás Leoz, former CONMEBOL president
Leoz was the most powerful man in South American soccer for an incredible amount of time, serving as president from 1986 to 2013. Like Warner, Leoz resigned from his position within FIFA while accused of corruption, though he claimed his resignation from the CONMEBOL presidency and FIFA executive committee were due to health reasons. He was alleged to have taken bribes in the 1990s by the BBC in 2010. The DOJ's allegations against him go all the way back to 1986, and he's yet to be arrested. He is charged with wire fraud in transactions totaling $13 million, to go along with racketeering and money laundering.
Alejandro Buzaco, Torneos y Competencias
Burazco runs TyC, a sports marketing company that also has a TV channel. Hilariously, Burazco was caught saying "all can get hurt because of this subject ... all of us go to prison" while meeting with other defendants about the $110 million in bribes paid out for TV and marketing rights surrounding multiple editions of Copa America. He is charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to launder money.
Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, Full Play Group
Hugo and his son Mariano run another sports marketing company that sells TV rights in Argentina. They were present at the meeting where Burazco mentioned that they could go to jail, and were caught talking about money laundering schemes on the phone with Davidson. They are charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to launder money.
Jose Margulies, Valente and Somerton
The president of a couple of companies that sell TV rights, Marguiles was part of the Datisa scheme, acting as an intermediary between Full Play and Esquivel, and collecting some money for his part. He is charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to launder money.
There's also a cast of characters that have not been arrested or charged with any crimes, but that you definitely need to know.
Mohammed bin Hammam, former AFC president
After Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup, fans were pretty annoyed with FIFA president Sepp Blatter and hoped he'd get challenged in the next election. His challenger? Mohammed bin Hammam, the longtime president of the AFC and former president of Qatar's FA. But just five days after bin Hammam declared he'd run, the FIFA ethics committee started an investigation into allegations that bin Hammam had offered bribes for votes. The FIFA ethics committee went on to ban him for life, and Blatter ran for re-election unopposed.
Prince Ali bin Hussein, FIFA vice president
If the FIFA presidential election is held as scheduled on Friday, Blatter's lone challenger will be Prince Ali, current FIFA vice president and head of Jordan's FA. He has vowed to fight corruption and wants the Garcia Report, an investigation into corruption allegations surrounding the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids, to be published in full. He promises to clean up FIFA quickly so they can return their focus to actual sporting development. You can read his manifesto here.
Michel Platini, UEFA president
Though he has never accused Blatter of being corrupt and claims that he likes the FIFA president personally, Platini has asked Blatter to step down and has indicated that he will support Ali in the upcoming election. Platini had previously threatened to boycott the FIFA congress altogether, but changed his position after FIFA executives met on Thursday. While Platini is much more popular than Blatter and is not regularly accused of corruption, he did vote for Qatar to win the rights to host the 2022 World Cup
Sepp Blatter, FIFA president
There is no point during his tenure at the top at which FIFA president Sepp Blatter has not been accused of being corrupt. Following his re-election in 2002, former general secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen claimed that Blatter had "systematically mismanaged FIFA by deception, illegal payments, violating the statutes and cronyism since becoming president in 1998." In addition to these allegations, it's indisputable that he's a complete ass -- he's claimed that racially abused players should settle their issues by shaking hands with their abusers and that shorter shorts are a good way to increase the popularity of women's soccer. He also once interrupted a minute of silence for Nelson Mandela.
He's overtly sexist, insensitive to racism and has been accused of corruption constantly for 18 years. He's repeatedly promised to fight corruption within FIFA, but presided over the biggest scandal in the sport's history. And yet, he might get re-elected to his position on Friday.