If you're a football fan, you'll have heard many claims of corruption at FIFA, the sports' international governing body. In the wake of the ludicrously successful Qatar World Cup bid, in which forced migrant labour is being used to build a brand new city to deadly effect, it almost felt like some sort of cruel joke. Today it seems the joke is finally on FIFA: a number of officials have been arrested in Zurich, Switzerland to face corruption charges in the US.
The members of FIFA arrested were gathering for the federation's annual meeting in Zurich on Friday, where incumbent President Sepp Blatter was expected to seek a fifth term in his position. However, the conference's plans were rocked when plain-clothed police officers confiscated hotel room keys from the Baur au Lac, and escorted suspects into custody.
The officials charged have been named as Jeffrey Webb, Eugenio Figueredo, Jack Warner, Eduardo Li, Julio Rocha, Costas Takkas, Rafael Esquivel, José Maria Marin and Nicolás Leoz. It's worth noting that Jeffrey Webb is FIFA's Vice President, the man many saw as Blatter's eventual successor. Each now faces extradition to the US.
The charges are numerous, and include money laundering, racketeering and wire fraud, with the Swiss Federal Office of Justice stating that US authorities suspect the officials of paying and accepting bribes numbering in the hundreds of millions of dollars "between the early 1990s and the present day."
The indictment also includes United States and South American sports marketing executives. 14 people in total are expected to be charged.
The arrests follow several investigations into corruption at FIFA over the past few years, including one into suspected corruption during the bidding process of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, in which FIFA was surprisingly cleared. [NYT]