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CONCACAF Files Suit Against Travel Group, Alleging Bribery and Corruption

13 Jan, 2016

By: Tracey Schelmetic

Same stuff, different day. Well, mostly the same stuff. As FIFA struggles to uncouple the words “professional soccer associations” from “corruption,” it may have sustained another black eye, though this time it would appear to be both the victim and the perpetrator. The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, or CONCACAF, recently filed a lawsuit against Cartan Tours Inc. alleging bribery of CONCACAF officials.

CONCACAF has accused Cartan of obtaining an “outrageously lucrative arrangement” by paying kickbacks to certain CONCACAF officials, including the organization’s already legally troubled former president, Jeffrey Webb. The complaint was filed Monday, December 21st in Los Angeles federal court.

To add woe to soccer’s global image, the lawsuit was filed on the same day that FIFA banned its long-time president Sepp Blatter and European soccer boss Michel Platini for eight years after uncovering a kickback scandal that was brought to light when Swiss authorities arrested seven soccer officials charged by U.S. prosecutors with bribery and money laundering.

In the lawsuit, CONCACAF alleges that the cost of the Gold Cup, the organization’s main soccer tournament for national teams held every two years, doubled from 2011 to 2013 because of inflated billing by Cartan Tours, according to Bloomberg Business. Cartan previously held the exclusive rights to provide all travel, accommodation and event planning services for CONCACAF.

“The Cartan relationship with Concacaf was a distorted one-sided affair in which Cartan used Concacaf as a proverbial cash cow, overinflating charges, overstaffing events, and increasing Concacaf’s logistical expenses because Cartan received an 18 percent management fee on top of every dollar Concacaf spent on logistics for its events, large and small,” the organization said in its lawsuit.

CONCACAF’s former president, Jeffrey Webb, was one of the nine FIFA officials charged in a racketeering and bribery indictment unsealed in May of this year. Webb pleaded guilty in November in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, after agreeing to be extradited to the U.S. In its suit, CONCACAF says it’s seeking no less than $50 million in compensatory and punitive damages against Cartan Tours.

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