Otaiba Leaks: US Soccer, Jordan, UAE Sought Alliance in FIFA election

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US Soccer, Jordan‘s royal family and the United Arab Emirates sought an alliance in the 2015 FIFA election in hopes of electing Prince Ali bin Hussein and getting the 2018 and 2022 World Cups removed from Russia and Qatar, according to emails obtained by Empire of Soccer.

The emails are part of a series of messages obtained by the Global Leaks collective that belonged to the UAE’s Ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba. They show Jordan’s Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, the UAE and US Soccer discussing efforts to get President Barack Obama to openly endorse Haya’s brother, Prince Ali, in the FIFA election. The correspondence came one year after the UAE paid $10,000 to sponsor a US Soccer Foundation gala. US Soccer Foundation’s Annual Report for 2015 lists the Embassy of the UAE as a corporate supporter.

Princess Haya said in an email dated May 5, 2015 that Obama had been angry with Sepp Blatter about the “corruption involved when the USA didn’t get the World Cup 5 years ago.” Haya wrote the UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation Reem Bint Ebrahim al Hashimy to persuade the UAE to raise the issue at the summit and mention Obama’s personal frustration with the World Cup vote. Haya later writes that current U.S. Soccer’s Vice President Carlos Cordeiro contacted her to confirm that the issue had been discussed at the meeting between the state leaders.

“So the USA Soccer FA (sic) would like some support with their own administration regarding the vote,” Haya wrote. “I feel if they got this they would really move.”

A request for comment was sent early Saturday to US Soccer.

The UAE was confused by the effort to get President Obama to condemn Blatter and the FIFA vote from US Soccer since the federation was already a known critic, another email shows. Richard Mintz, the public relations adviser to the UAE embassy, said that the UAE had already enjoyed a good relationship with the US Soccer Foundation. They did not have a working relationship with US Soccer at the time, “though we will find a way in,” Mintz wrote.

Later that month the US unsealed indictments against several top FIFA officials. The morning of the raid, Otaiba lauds the indictment to a former Department of Justice attorney, Hal Shapiro.

“It’s about damn time!

FIFA is about as corrupt as…no, there’s actually no organization as corrupt as FIFA.”

Emails show Otaiba discussing the allegations and the upcoming FIFA election with City Football Group members Simon Pearce and Marty Edelman. “The table stakes for a FIFA Presidential candidate are: 1. Review Russia and Qatar bids and 2. Release the Garcia Report,” Pearce wrote. The Garcia report would not be released for almost another two years after portions of it were leaked.

Link to Emails: fifa