FIFA Had Secret U.S. Legal Deal Before HQ Was Raided In '15, Documents Reveal
The former FIFA director of legal affairs agreed to a "secret deal to pay American lawyers" up to £750 an hour to "defend" football’s governing body from the U.S. Department of Justice five months before officials were arrested, leaked documents revealed, according to Martyn Ziegler of the LONDON TIMES. Marco Villiger -- who has been promoted to FIFA deputy secretary general and is the only remaining senior exec from the "Sepp Blatter era" -- hired law firm Quinn Emanuel in Dec. '14, according to the documents. The FIFA corruption scandal, however, "blew up" in May '15 when officers raided the Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich and made seven arrests. Former FIFA President Blatter said that he had been "unaware of the contract" with QE and that there may have been an "internal conspiracy" against him. Proof of the agreement with QE was first obtained by German newspaper Der Spiegel, and showed that Villiger was aware that FIFA "was a target" for the DOJ. The eight-page document states, "QE handles and will handle the following: to defend FIFA's interests against the DOJ." The hourly rate quoted for partners was 970 Swiss francs, although the firm promised a 10% discount (LONDON TIMES, 8/15).