11 October 2018

FIFA restitution bid faces Lagos test


Michael A. Rueda
Partner | Head of US Sports and Entertainment | US

On Thursday October 4, 2018 a New York judge warned FIFA that its requests for tens of millions of dollars in restitution from two former officials convicted of corruption may not pass muster in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling in Lagos v. United States. FIFA, the South American Football Confederation, and the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, or CONCACAF, have argued they were victims of the scheme by the convicted officials, and deserve monetary reparations for losses related to media rights as well as attorneys’ fees incurred in connection with the case, among other expenses. The South American Football Confederation is seeking at least $93.7 million, FIFA wants more than $28.6 million and CONCACAF is looking for somewhere between $18.1 and $23.1 million. A large portion of the damages sought are resulting from attorney's fees and investigation costs, which presents issues in light of the Supreme Court's recent ruling in Lagos. In Lagos, the Court held that mandatory restitution law doesn’t require criminal defendants to cover the expenses for company-initiated internal investigations. With respect to Lagos' effect on the current FIFA case, the presiding judge told attorneys, “I can tell you generally speaking that, after Lagos, I think there’s not much support for [awarding damages for] internal investigations undertaken by the victims unless, and even this I think is still questionable, unless invited or requested to do so by the government.” The Supreme Court's ruling in Lagos will likely decrease the amount of damages awarded considerably. The defense attorneys' had argued that even limiting the covered costs to government requests isn’t enough, as the damages sought were far exceeding any cost associated with the prosecuted scheme. FIFA must now compile a list of expenses it believes might be eligible for restitution, knowing that the court will review the expenses within the narrow guidelines of Lagos.

This article was written with contributions from Tim Piscatelli.

Michael A. Rueda Partner | Head of US Sports and Entertainment | New York

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