Swiss authorities carried out an operation on Wednesday morning for ten soccer officials – including nine from FIFA – to be arrested and extradited to the United States on corruption charges. Several arrests were made in a high-end Zurich hotel, according to the New York Times.
Fourteen people total have been charged by Attorney General Loretta Lynch. The officials include Jeffrey Webb and Jack Warner, the current and former FIFA vice presidents, respectively, both of whom hail from the CONCACAF region.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has not been charged. An election is scheduled for Friday, when Blatter is expected to win a fifth term.
An FBI investigation led to the charges, which allege widespread corruption involving World Cup bids as well as marketing and broadcasting deals. Details of the charges can be read in full here. Charges include racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy.
Soccer marketing officials, including Traffic Sports, are also named in the charges. Over $150 million in bribes and kickbacks is alleged to have changed hands between FIFA and marketing officials from 1991 to present. A search warrant was also executed on Wednesday morning at CONCACAF headquarters in Miami.
FIFA released a statement on Wednesday acknowledging six arrests and two separate investigations, one involving The U.S. investigation of “activities carried out in relation with CONCACAF and CONMEBOL business” and another involving the the Swiss Office of the Attorney General and the bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. The statement reads, in part:
Today, the Swiss Office of the Attorney General announced that it has opened criminal proceedings against persons unknown in relation to the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup™ bidding process. FIFA is fully cooperating with the investigation and is supporting the collection of evidence in this regard. As noted by the Swiss authorities, this collection of evidence is being carried out on a cooperative basis.
We are pleased to see that the investigation is being energetically pursued for the good of football and believe that it will help to reinforce measures that FIFA has already taken.”
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