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"2014 FIFA Announcement (Joseph Blatter) 8" by Marcello Casal Jr. / ABr - Agência Brasil (Secretaria de Imprensa e Divulgação). Licensed under CC BY 3.0 br via Wikimedia Commons

16 More FIFA Officials Charged In Corruption Case

United States prosecutors have announced criminal charges, which include money laundering, racketeering and wire fraud, against 16 FIFA officials. The prosecution claims that they were part of an over 20-year scheme to personally profit off the world’s most popular game.

The two biggest names of this latest batch of arrests are Alfredo Hawit and Juan Angel Napout. The former is the head of CONCACAF, the governing body for soccer in North America, Central America and the Caribbean, while the latter heads COMMEBOL, the South American authority.

“On the instructions of the (Swiss) Federal Office of Justice, a further two FIFA officials were arrested in Zurich today,” a statement from the Swiss Federal Court of Justice read. “They are being held in custody pending their extradition. According to U.S. arrest requests, they are suspected of accepting bribes of millions of dollars. The high-ranking FIFA officials are alleged to have taken the money in return for selling marketing rights in connection with football tournaments in Latin America, as well as World Cup qualifying matches. According to the arrest requests, some of the offenses were agreed and prepared in the USA. Payments were also processed via U.S. banks,” the statement added, explaining why the U.S. was in a position to ask for the arrests.

The charges were the latest in a push led by the United States to clean up corruption in international football. FIFA president Sepp Blatter and UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) president Michel Platini are both currently serving 90 day suspensions following criminal charges from the Swiss Attorney General.

The overarching belief is that FIFA has been profiting from kickbacks from its tournaments and their media rights. The selections of the next two World Cup hosts, Russia and Qatar, for example, are believed to have been aided by unjust means.

 

Photo: “2014 FIFA Announcement (Joseph Blatter) 8” by Marcello Casal Jr. / ABr – Agência Brasil (Secretaria de Imprensa e Divulgação). Licensed under CC BY 3.0 br via Wikimedia Commons

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Written by Joe Kozlowski