FIFA Executives Arrested in Zurich

Photo of author

( — May 27, 2015) — Zurich, Switzerland – Six top officials at FIFA – the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the governors of World soccer – have been arrested at a hotel in Zurich, Switzerland, on suspicion of bribery, the Guardian reported.

The US attorney who started the investigation with the FBI, after the US lost the bidding for the World Cup to Russia and Quatar, claimed that FIFA officials received bribes totaling $100 million. Acting on request by US authorities, the officials were arrested before FIFA’s annual general meeting on Friday, in an early-morning raid by Swiss police, and now wait extradition to the US, the Guardian reported.

Reportedly arrested was Jeffrey Webb, president of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football, a major figure in FIFA politics. Also, his predecessor, Jack Warner was arrested in the raid.

The others held by Swiss police are: Eugenio Figueredo, a Uruguayan Association football executive and former footballer; Eduardo Li, president of the Costa Rican football federation; Julio Rocha, a Fifa development officer; Rafael Esquivel, president of the Venezuelan Football Federation; José Maria Marin, ex-president of the Brazilian Football Confederation, and Nicolás Leoz, the former South American football president.

Besides taking the bribe, arrested FIFA officials are charged with money laundering, racketeering and wire fraud. Allegedly, they took money to fix Russia and Qatar to win the bid for hosting the World Cup in 2018 and 2022, however, FIFA held internal investigation when allegations occurred, but did not find any financial connection between winning countries and any FIFA official.

It is not yet clear if the US will challenge World Cup bidding, since both Qatar and Russia are likely to aggressively defend their stand. The countries are already spending significant funds according the organization preparations.

According to the Guardian, Swiss police appear to have timed the arrests because they knew all suspects are going to be in same place before FIFA’s annual general meeting on Friday. Baur au Lac, a luxury hotel with views overlooking the Alps, is one of the favorite hotels for FIFA officials who visiting Zurich.

World Cup bidders, Australia and the United States for 2022, and Portugal and Spain for 2018, wait for Wednesday’s press conference, hoping for the bidding process to be reopened.