FIFA officials arrested on corruption charges

Published May 27th, 2015 - 10:49 GMT
President of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, gives an interview on May 15, 2015 at the organization's headquarters in Zurich. (AFP/Fabrice Coffrini)
President of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, gives an interview on May 15, 2015 at the organization's headquarters in Zurich. (AFP/Fabrice Coffrini)

Top officials from world soccer's governing body were arrested on US corruption charges Wednesday in Zurich, Switzerland, several media outlets reported.

According to the New York Times, Swiss law enforcement arrested officials from the Federation Internationale de Football Association, known as FIFA, at the Baur au Lac hotel, where they were expected to re-elect FIFA President Sepp Blatter on Friday.

Authorities plan to extradite the officials to the United States, where they will face federal fraud and bribery charges related to the selection of host countries for the World Cup, US officials told NBC News.

Blatter was not among those arrested, but authorities told CNN that he and other officials have been investigated as part of a three-year FBI probe.

FIFA's bidding process has long faced allegations of corruption, though an internal investigation found last December that the organization had fairly awarded the 2018 World Cup to Russia and 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

But a US law enforcement official told the New York Times that investigators were surprised by the breadth of alleged ethical violations committed by FIFA officials.

"We're struck by just how long this went on for and how it touched nearly every part of what FIFA did," the law enforcement official said. "It just seemed to permeate every element of the federation and was just their way of doing business. It seems like this corruption was institutionalized."

The Sunday Times published documents last June which suggested that FIFA members accepted millions of dollars in bribes from Qatar soccer official Mohamed Bin Hammam, which Qatar denies.

By Kate Stanton


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