FIFA Rocked as U.S. Charges 14 in Corruption Investigation
ZURICH—Swiss police arrested seven FIFA officials here early Wednesday, as Swiss and U.S. authorities unveiled separate, sweeping probes of alleged corruption over more than two decades at the world’s top governing body for soccer.
The U.S. Justice Department said it charged nine current and former FIFA officials and five others on broad corruption charges, accusing them of various schemes over 24 years to enrich themselves through FIFA.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the individuals indicted had “corrupted the business of world-wide soccer to serve their interests and to enrich themselves,” describing the alleged scheme as “rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted” in the U.S. and abroad.
In a sweeping, 161-page indictment that lists 25 co-conspirators in addition to the 14 named defendants, prosecutors describe a wide-ranging scheme that spanned decades and involved increasingly large payments as soccer grew more commercially valuable in South America and the U.S.
The Justice Department alleged those involved in the scheme included soccer officials, sports media and marketing company executives, and other intermediaries who “laundered illicit payments.”
The U.S. is seeking the extradition of the seven FIFA officials arrested in Zurich. Six of the seven are opposing their extradition to the U.S., the Swiss Federal Office of Justice said.
Swiss authorities said they opened a separate criminal probe related specifically to the selection of Russia and Qatar as future World Cup hosts.