Police make 14 arrests in FIFA corruption probe

US law enforcement officials announce the the arrests of nine FIFA officials and five others on corruption charges

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

US law enforcement officials announced Wednesday that nine high ranking FIFA officials, including two current vice presidents, and five sports marketing executives were arrested and would face charges of corruption in the United States.

A federal in New York indicted the men on 47 counts ranging from racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies during a span of more than two decades. The arrested are said to have used their positions for personal enrichment over the course of 24 years.  

The news comes after seven FIFA officials including current vice President and executive committee member Jeffrey Webb were arrested by authorities at their yearly summit in Zurich Switzerland Wednesday morning.

Local authorities announced that the seven would be extradited to the US for hearings.

The Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) announced that it had blocked several bank accounts holding the assets of FIFA officials in the country. 

"Further to three U.S. requests for legal assistance, the FOJ has also ordered the blocking of accounts at several banks in Switzerland through which bribes are claimed to have flowed as well as the seizure of related bank documents," the statement read.

FIFA released a statement after the arrests stating that the 2018 World Cup set to take place in Russia would not be affected by the arrests and that current body head Sepp Blatter would not be removed from his post.

"It is certainly a difficult moment for us," spokesman Walter De Gregorio said.

"It is a hard time for us. But this is good for FIFA. It confirms that we are on the right track. It hurts. It's not easy. But it's the right way to go."

FIFA released another statment from its official website stating that the organization "welcomes" the action of law enforcement officials helping "to rooting out any wrongdoing in football."

The statement clarified that FIFA and its sub-devisions for Europe and Aisa were not hit by the corruption probe which saw the arrests of officials from the body's Americas and Africa branches.

"Firstly, the arrest of six individuals this morning in Zurich concerns investigations by the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of the State of New York. The Swiss authorities, acting on behalf of their US counterparts, arrested the individuals for activities carried out in relation with CONCACAF and CONMEBOL business."

Russia’s Football Union General Secretary Anatoly Vorobyov confirmed that the arrests would not affect the location of the upcoming world cup.

Planned elections to determine the body’s head are reportedly to continue next week regardless of the arrests with Blatter expected to return to his post for a fifth term. Vorobyov also said in a phone interview with Reuters that "Looking at how things stand, Blatter is without doubt the odds-on favourite."

Following the arrests, CONCACAF’s, the continental footballing authority of the Americas led by Webb, office in Miami was visited by law enforcement officials executing a warrant issued by the US department of Justice relating to the FIFA corruption trials

TRTWorld and agencies