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The Biggest IRS Scandal in Sports Finally Exposed


Posted on May 01, 2022

Back in 2011, the highest-ranking American in international soccer Chuck Blazer said that there are two types of soccer executives: “those who take bribes, and those who pay them,” and then the world stopped for a second. It was very soon after when Ken Bensinger published a book “Red Card: How the U.S. Blew the Whistle on the World’s Biggest Sports Scandal.” He used that particular observation as the central theme, calling international soccer a hotbed for corruption.

In fact, it was in the early 1980s when everything changed. The corruption “hit” sports; the moment such tournaments as the World Cup and South America’s Copa America became available commercial properties.

Bribes became the principal aspect of virtually all sports transactions with middle agents selling segments of their previously bought media and sponsorship rights to broadcasters and advertisers around the world. With FIFA’s official six regional bodies that host over 200 national associations, World Cup qualifiers and league matches to sell, sports marketers needed to do something to gain the rights at a lower price. And they did – usually, they’d pay executives under the table. To make things even worse, most of those payments were processed by U.S. banks—J.P. Morgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo.

So, what if you wanted to expose the corruption?

You’d think to go to the IRS would do, but – think again – how could it when the corruption began right there, in a cubicle on the third floor of the IRS office in Laguna Niguel, California. If it weren’t for Steve Berryman, an IRS agent, we’d probably never learn of the link between bribes among sports officials and marketing companies buying and selling their rights. An expert in tracking illicit payments and tax evasion, and an avid football lover, Berryman uncovered the web of crimes that included wire fraud, tax evasion, bribery, and money laundering. Berryman then collaborated with Frank J. Wilson, an agent for the Treasury Department’s Intelligence Unit, who connected the tax dots that would eventually bring down the mob boss. Once caught, the criminals (you may have heard names Capone and Blazer pop around) decided to collaborate with investigators in exchange for a lighter sentence. Then they explained how $20 million was skimmed from North American soccer’s governing body, without a single dime of taxes being paid. It reflected on how backroom dealings and illegal payments are, in fact, the financial heart of international soccer.

And that’s just one segment of the investigation.

Berryman didn’t stop at that and is still on a mission. The latest he managed to uncover (but still needs to prove) are envelopes of cash linked to the Qatar-based billionaire Mohammed bin Hammam who is believed to have his fingerprints all over the controversial decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. How far will the uncovering go remains to be seen?

Until then, support your team and pay taxes on time. And if you need someone to consult with on how to handle your taxes properly without getting in any trouble, contact us at Golden Tax Relief – we’ll be happy to help keep you on track.


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