According to the New York Times, the US Justice Department and Swiss police have arrested “several top soccer officials and extradite them to the United States on federal corruption charges.”
This comes after an investigation by the FBI and US Justice Department as well as an E:60 special on the rise of Sepp Blatter as FIFA President and the dirty tricks he has pulled while running the most powerful soccer organization in the world. It was revealed in the E:60 special that Blatter is avoiding entering the United States for fear of being arrested as a result of the investigation on FIFA. This also comes two days before the FIFA Presidential election where Blatter is favored to win over opponent Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan.
For this sequence of arrests and indictments, the New York Times reported that police entered the “Baur au Lac hotel,” the hotel where many FIFA members are staying as they are attending the FIFA annual meeting in Zurich this week. More than 10 people, not including Blatter, were indicted for charges including wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering. They’re expected to be extradited by Swiss officials to Brooklyn, New York to await trial.
While more info is coming out as we speak, this could potentially be huge in the future of FIFA and world soccer. Depending on who gets arrested, it may be the catalyst the Justice Department needs to get to Blatter. We will update as more info breaks.
UPDATE (12:47 AM ET): The New York Times reports that those indicted include CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb, former CONMEBOL President Eugenio Figueredo and former CONCACAF President Jack Warner. All three are currently or have been on FIFA’s Executive Committee.
UPDATE (1:16 AM ET): The New York Times reports that Costa Rica’s Eduardo Li is another person indicted. He “was led by the authorities from his room to a side-door exit of the hotel. He was allowed to bring his luggage, which was adorned with FIFA logos.” With all the CONCACAF and CONMEBOL names, this may be a result to Chuck Blazer’s work with the FBI.
UPDATE (1:40 AM ET): The AP reports on their Twitter account that six in total have been arrested.
BREAKING: Swiss authorities: 6 soccer officials arrested, suspected of getting, paying millions in bribes
— The Associated Press (@AP) May 27, 2015
UPDATE (2:29 AM ET): The Swiss Federal Office of Justice has released a statement.
“The six soccer functionaries were arrested today in Zurich by the Zurich Cantonal Police . The FOJ’s arrest warrants were issued further to a request by the US authorities. The US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York is investigating these individuals on suspicion of the acceptance of bribes and kick-backs between the early 1990s and the present day. The bribery suspects – representatives of sports media and sports promotion firms – are alleged to have been involved in schemes to make payments to the soccer functionaries – delegates of FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) and other functionaries of FIFA sub-organizations – totaling more than USD 100 million. In return, it is believed that they received media, marketing, and sponsorship rights in connection with soccer tournaments in Latin America. According to the US request, these crimes were agreed and prepared in the US, and payments were carried out via US banks.”
UPDATE (2:44 AM ET): The New York Times has released the list of 14 people being indicted. They include:
Jeffrey Webb – CONCACAF President and FIFA Vice President
Eugenio Figueredo – Former CONMEBOL President
Jack Warner – Former CONCACAF President and former FIFA Vice President
Eduardo Li – Costa Rica Football Federation President
Julio Rocha – Nicaraguan Football Federation President
Costas Takkas – Cayman Islands FA General Secretary
Rafael Esquivel – Venezuelan Football Federation President
Jose Maria Marin – Former Brazilian Football Confederation President
Nicolas Leoz – Former CONMEBOL President
Aaron Davidson – CEO and Chairman of the Board of North American Soccer League (NASL)