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AFC chief Richard Lai pleads guilty to bribery charges

A senior Asian Football Confederation official has pleaded guilty to charges related to the payment and acceptance of bribes in the 2011 FIFA presidential election.

Richard Lai, president of Guam's Football Association and still a member of the AFC's marketing committee and FIFA's audit and compliance committee, received $100,000 (£77,500) in bribes from an AFC official, the United States Department of Justice said on Thursday.

Lai, an American citizen, admitted receiving $100,000 in exchange for a vote and support in the 2011 elections and over $850,000 (£658,000) between 2009 and 2014 from a faction of soccer officials in the AFC region. He received them in exchange for using his position to benefit those who bribed him.

Sepp Blatter won the 2011 FIFA presidential election unopposed after Mohamed Bin Hammam withdrew in the wake of a life ban.

Richard Lai
Richard Lai admitted receiving nearly $1 million in bribes.

The pleas, made in Brooklyn, bring back to the fore the investigation previously spearheaded by former U.S. attorney general Loretta Lynch into corruption in international football, led by the U.S. Department of Justice.

After several FIFA officials were arrested in Zurich in the May 2015, Lynch announced a number of indictments against high-ranking officials.

This represents the first time a U.S.-led investigation has involved an Asian official.

Allied to this, Le Monde on Thursday reported that French authorities were investigating the bidding contests for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, won by Russia and Qatar respectively.

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