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Some of the $200 million U.S. authorities say was misappropriated by FIFA executives and other football officials should eventually be returned to the sport, according to player union officials.

The U.S. Justice Ministry said this month that 41 executives ilegally siphoned off the money from television rights deals involving the Concacaf and Conmebol confederations dating back almost a quarter of a century. The confederations oversee football competitions covering North, Central and South America.

“That’s the money of football, the money of players that has been taken", Luis Garcia, Secretary General of the Colombian football players association, Asociacion Colombiana de Futbolistas Profesionales, said.

Garcia (pictured above) played for the Colombian national team before his career was cut short by injury at age 28. 

Luis Bedoya, the former president of the Colombian football federation, has pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy, according to the U.S. Justice Ministry.

The football officials have overseen often-chaotic leagues where players regularly go unpaid or are traded like commodities in the global player transfer market. In Ecuador, for exmple, players are owed $20 million by their clubs, according to national players union Asociacion de Futbolistas de Ecuador.

Carlos Soto, the president of the Chilean players union SIFUP, said the money should be returned to benefit youth development and assist retired players but only once there is a credible administration in place in the region.

“We need to be sure that the money is in safe hands,” Soto, a former defender for Chile's Universidad Catolica, said.

Soto has requested Chile’s government intervenes in the management of the national football federation after its president Sergio Jadue resigned last month. Jadue has pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy, according to the U.S. Justice Ministry.

Bob Foose, Executive Director of the MLS Players Union in the U.S., said that "all money that has been misappropriated needs to be returned and put to its proper purpose.”

"The primary focus of the game should be on those who play it," Foose said.