Six FIFA officials arrested on £65m bribery charges

DETAINED: Former vice president Jack Warner is among the officials arrested in Switzerland [GETTY IMAGE]
DETAINED: Former vice president Jack Warner is among the officials arrested in Switzerland [GETTY IMAGE]
SIX FIFA officials have been arrested on suspicion of getting and paying £65million in bribes.

Authorities reportedly plan to extradite the officials to the United States following a three-year FBI investigation.

The group will be extradited because it is alleged that the bribes were arranged in the US.

Officials have since raided Fifa’s headquarters and seized documents.

They said they have opened criminal proceedings in connection to the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.

Vice-president Jeffrey Webb and ex-vice president Jack Warner are among those expected to face charges, reports claimed.

The charges reportedly include wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering.

At a press conference this morning Fifa’s communications director Walter de Gregorio said that the presidential election on Friday will go ahead as planned.

He also said the arrests were not a surprise as the governing body had itself handed files over to officials last year.

“Fifa initiated these proceedings last year by filing a complaint on November 18.

“The timing may not be the best, but Fifa welcomes this process and we are cooperating fully with the attorney general of Switzerland and the US attorney general.”

In response to speculation that president Blatter would step down, he said: “I have seen tweets and comments and media speculation. Let me say that the general secretary and president are not involved in this procedure.”

He also said that at this stage the World Cups in Russia and Qatar will go ahead as planned.

“What do you expect from us,” he said. “That we start to speculate and say ‘maybe we will redo the voting for Russia and Qatar’? These are the facts today – Russia and Qatar will be played.”

“The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States.”

Loretta Lynch, US attorney general

US attorney general Loretta Lynch said: “The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States.

“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.”

It’s claimed more than a dozen policemen arrived at a five-star hotel in the Swiss capital, while the leaders were gathering for their annual meeting.

The organisation has been plagued by allegations of bribery for decades – but particularly since 2010 when they awarded the 2018 and

The decision is still controversial almost five years later – at least eight members of that executive committee have since resigned or been removed.

Suspicions of vote-buying were so strong that Fifa appointed an independent investigator, Michael J Garcia, to look into the process.

Fifa is yet to publish Mr Garcia’s report, which was completed last autumn.

The report found wrongdoing on the part of the Qatari and Russian bid committees, but Fifa’s ethics judge ruled this wasn’t enough to question the whole process.

In December Mr Garcia resigned from his role as investigator in protest of the organisation’s handling of his report.

A law enforcement official was quoted as saying: “We’re struck by just how long this went on for and how it touched nearly every part of what FIFA did.

“It just seemed to permeate every element of the federation and was just their way of doing business.

“It seems like this corruption was institutionalised.”

“The bribery suspects – representatives of sports media and sports promotion firms – are alleged to have been involved in schemes to make payments to the soccer functionaries – delegates of Fifa and other functionaries of Fifa sub-organisations – totalling more than 100million US dollars.

“In return, it is believed that they received media, marketing and sponsorship rights in connection with soccer tournaments in Latin America.

“According to the US request, these crimes were agreed and prepared in the US and payments were carried out via US banks.”

Officials said that the suspects could be deported immediately.

Originally published on dailystar.co.uk

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