High-level FIFA Officials Arrested in “Rampant” Corruption Row
Swiss authorities arrested seven high-level FIFA officials at a luxury hotel in Zurich, Switzerland, in a dawn raid this morning.
The arrests came on the eve of FIFA’s annual meeting. It is expected that the arrested officials will be extradited to the United States to face charges of corruption.
Meanwhile Swiss prosecutors also announced their own criminal investigation into the selection process for the next two FIFA World Cup events, to be held in Russia and Qatar in 2018 and 2022 respectively.
According to the New York Times, early this morning at the five-star Baur au Lac Hotel in Zurich, more than a dozen police officers entered the building in plain clothing.
They proceeded to peacefully arrest seven high-level FIFA officials. FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich was also raided, and many items and records were seized.
Overall a group of 14 defendants face charges of racketeering, money laundering, and corruption from the US Department of State in relation to FIFA operations.
The charges are the result of an FBI investigation, and address allegations that the officials lined their pockets with bribes and kickbacks.
US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the charges alleged that corruption within FIFA was “systemic and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States”, adding that the true victims of the crimes were the football fans and players that FIFA is supposed to champion.
She said: “It has profoundly harmed a multitude of victims, from the youth leagues and developing countries that should benefit from the revenue generated by the commercial rights these organizations hold, to the fans at home and throughout the world whose support for the game makes those rights valuable.”