Fifa Officials, Including Vice-President Jeffrey Webb, Charged Over Corruption Claims

Fifa 'Imploding' After Charges And World Cup Criminal Probe Announced

A criminal investigation has been launched in to the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, plunging Fifa deeper in to crisis as senior officials were charged with alleged corruption that was "rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted".

The announcement came hours after a number of senior its officials including vice-president Jeffrey Webb were arrested in Switzerland this morning as part of a separate US investigation into corruption claims.

Former vice-president Jack Warner and five others were arrested alongside Mr Webb and charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies in connection with an alleged "24-year scheme to enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer".

They were arrested by officers who swooped on the five-star Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich.

US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said: "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 organisations hold, to the fans at home and throughout the world whose support for the game makes those rights valuable.

"Today's action makes clear that this Department of Justice intends to end any such corrupt practices, to root out misconduct, and to bring wrongdoers to justice - and we look forward to continuing to work with other countries in this effort."

Several Fifa officials were arrested in Zurich

Hotel employees hide the identity of a individual led out of the side entrance of the hotel

A statement from the Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) read: "The six soccer functionaries were arrested today in Zurich by the Zurich Cantonal Police.

"The FOJ's arrest warrants were issued further to a request by the US authorities.

"The US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York is investigating these individuals on suspicion of the acceptance of bribes and kick-backs between the early 1990s and the present day.

"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 (Federation Internationale de Football Association) and other functionaries of Fifa sub-organisations - totalling more than 100 million 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."

Gary Lineker tweeted that the "extraordinary" events showed FIFA was "imploding".

Regarding the criminal investigation into the allocation of the world cup to Russia and Qatat in 2018 and 2012 respectively, the Swiss Attorney General said they had "opened criminal proceedings against persons unknown on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and of money laundering in connection with the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 Football World Cups.

The office added: "In the course of said proceedings, electronic data and documents were seized today at Fifa's head office in Zurich.

"These measures were carried out simultaneously as a large number of persons involved in allocating the World Cups were currently in Zurich.

"These legal actions concern two criminal procedures conducted separately by the OAG and the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York.

"The Swiss and US law enforcement authorities are not conducting any joint investigations, but are coordinating their respective criminal proceedings."

Fifa president Sepp Blatter, who is standing for re-election on Friday, is not among those arrested.

Prince Ali Bin al Hussein of Jordan, who is challenging Blatter for the Fifa presidency, said: "Today is a sad day for football.

"Clearly this is a developing story, the details of which are still emerging.

"It would not be appropriate to comment further at this time."

Fifa spokesman Walter de Gregorio said the organisation initiated and "welcomes" the investigation.

He confirmed Mr Blatter and Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke are not involved in the proceedings and the election for president will go ahead as planned on Friday.

He said: "Timing is obviously not the best. Certainly this is a difficult moment for us, Fifa is suffering once again.

"It was never an idea to postpone congress or election. The election will take place as planned."

Mr de Gregorio said the investigation will not affect the hosting of the next competitions, adding: "The World Cups 2018 and 2022 will be played in Russia and Qatar."


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