Early Wednesday morning, seven FIFA officials have been arrested on corruption charges by Swiss officials and face U.S. extradition. Furthermore, Swiss investigators also plan to probe the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bid and search for signs of bribery.

Fifa Officials Arrested

The soccer world was sent into an upheaval today as Swiss officers entered Zurich’s Baur au Lac hotel to arrest seven FIFA officials — 14 individuals in total — on charges of wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering, according to the New York Times. The officials were at the hotel for the non-profit organization’s annual meeting.

And while high profile FIFA members like Jeffrey Webb, Eugenio Figueredo, Eduardo Li, Julio Rocha were arrested, president Sepp Blatter, who is seeking reelection for his fifth term, was not indicted.

“The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States,” said Attorney General Lynch.  “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.  And it has profoundly harmed a multitude of victims, from the youth leagues and developing countries that should benefit from the revenue generated by the commercial rights these organizations hold, to the fans at home and throughout the world whose support for the game makes those rights valuable.”

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And acting U.S. Attorney Currie feels that the arrests send a clear “message” to the organization, but “this indictment is not the final chapter in our investigation.”

As for the rest of the defendants, the list includes past and present FIFA officials Costas Takkas, Jack Warner, Rafael Esquivel, José Maria Marin and Nicolás Leoz. On top of this, marketing executives Alejandso Burzaco, Aaron Davidson, Hugo and Mariano Jinkis were also apprehended along with broadcasting businessman, who allegedly served as a middleman for the bribery, José Margulies.

As for the actual FIFA events that were allegedly involved in the scandal, the indictment includes “FIFA World Cup qualifiers in the CONCACAF region, the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the CONCACAF Champions League, the jointly organized CONMEBOL/CONCACAF Copa América Centenario, the CONMEBOL Copa América, the CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores and the Copa do Brasil, which is organized by the Brazilian national soccer federation (CBF),” as well as bribery related to an unnamed sportswear sponsorship, 2010 World Cup selection and 2011 FIFA presidential election.

fifa Corruption

FIFA’s corruption has long been expected, but garnered mainstream attention when the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids were given to Russia and Qatar.

Last year, a whistle blower even leaked emails to the London Sunday Times that alleged widespread corruption and bribery, which led to Qatar garnering the 2022 bid — allegations that the nation has refuted.

And now, just hours after the arrest of seven FIFA members — again 14 people in total — the Swiss have decided to begin their own investigation into the aforementioned host selection process.

“The OAG has seized data and documents stored in IT systems at [FIFA] as part of a so-called ‘collection of evidence on cooperative basis,'” according to a press release from Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland. As a result, charges of mismanagement and money laundering will be investigated, with at least ten voters being questioned about the 2018 and 2022 election process.

The OAG’s investigation was separate to the original U.S. indictments, but both parties worked together.

FIFA president Blatter was not indicated in either investigation and the soccer organization still plans to go ahead with their 2015 presidential election, according to FIFA Director of Communications Walter de Gregorio. Before this scandal, Blatter was expected to win easily.

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