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Top FIFA officials arrested in Switzerland on corruption charges Open in fullscreen

Top FIFA officials arrested in Switzerland on corruption charges

FIFA president Sepp Blatter did not face the press after the arrests (Getty)

Date of publication: 27 May, 2015

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Awarding of 2018 and 2022 World Cup to be investigated after Swiss police arrest officials, including two FIFA vice-presidents, at the request of US authorities on corruption charges.

The football world's governing body FIFA has been thrown into crisis, after several high-ranking officials were arrested in Switzerland on US corruption charges on Wednesday, followed by an announcement by Swiss federal prosecutors that the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively is being investigated.

Seven FIFA officials were arrested after a raid on a luxury hotel in Zurich, where the organisation is head-quartered, including two vice presidents of the organisation, Jeffrey Webb of the Caymen Islands and Eugenio Fugueredo of Uruguay.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who has been dogged by criticism of his running of the organisation, is not being investigated according to FIFA, and will still be running for a fifth term as president in Friday's election.

“He is not one of the ones arrested. He is not involved at all,” said Walter de Gregorio, FIFA's spokesman. “We are trying to find out more from the police.”

Blatter's only opponent in Friday's election, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, said it was “a sad day for football”, but did not give any further comments.

Seven FIFA officials were arrested in total by Swiss police at the request of the US, and 14 were indicted.

“The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States,” Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said in a statement. “It spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.”

The Swiss Federal Office of Justice said that the US case involves bribes “totalling more than $100 million” linked to commercial deals dating back to the 1990s for football tournaments in the United States and Latin America – where the arrested officials are linked to – and the US Justice Department said that the corruption is linked to World Cup qualifying matches and South America's continental championship, the Copa America.

Swiss police took the opportunity to swoop on the officials as dozens of FIFA representatives are in Switzerland for the FIFA congress and presidential election, which Blatter is still expected to win.

As part of their investigations into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which raised several eyebrows when they were awarded in 2010, Swiss prosecutors have seized “electronic data and documents” from FIFA's headquarters, and Swiss police have said that they will question 10 FIFA executive committee members who took part in the World Cup votes.

The Swiss prosecutors office said that the investigation was looking into “persons unknown on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and of money laundering”.

FIFA has ruled out a revote for the upcoming World Cups.

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