Football officials arrested in
FIFA vice president
President of Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) (since 2012)
Chairman of the FIFA Anti-Racism and Discrimination Task Force
President of Cayman Islands Football Association
FIFA vice president
Former president of South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) (2013-14)
Former president of Uruguayan Football Association (1997-2006)
(Trinidad and Tobago)
Minister of National Security, Trinidad and Tobago
Former president of CONCACAF (1990-2011)
Former FIFA vice president (to 2011)
Former president of the Caribbean Football Union (1990-2011)
Resigned from all football posts on June 11, 2011, bringing an end to FIFA Ethics Committee procedures against him.
President of Venezuelan Football Federation (Since 1987)
Member of FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee
JOSE MARIA MARIN
Former president of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) (2012-2015)
President of Local Organising Committee for 2014 World Cup Former Governor of Sao Paulo State (1982-1983)
Former president of CONMEBOL (1986-2013)
Former member of FIFA’s executive committee (1998-2013)
Twice former president of Paraguayan Football Association
Retired from all football posts for “health and personal reasons” in April 2013.
President of Costa Rican Football Federation
Special advisor to the Organising Committee for the FIFA U-20 and U-17 Women’s World Cups
Former president of Nicaraguan Football Federation (1990-2014)
Elected to CONCACAF Hall of Fame in 2009
FIFA development officer
Former general secretary the Cayman Islands Football Association
The world’s most popular sport was plunged into turmoil yesterday as seven powerful football figures were arrested on US corruption charges and faced extradition from Switzerland, whose authorities also announced a criminal investigation into the awarding of the next two World Cups.
The arrests of the senior FIFA officials in a morning raid at a five-star Zurich hotel mark an unprecedented blow against football’s powerful governing body, which for years has been dogged by allegations of corruption but always escaped major criminal cases.
US prosecutors said they aimed to make more arrests but would not be drawn on whether FIFA President Sepp Blatter, for long the most powerful man in the sport, was a target of the probe. Blatter, 79, is standing for re-election to a fifth term at the FIFA Congress in Zurich on Friday, and FIFA said the vote would go ahead as planned.
US authorities said a total of nine football officials and five sports media and promotions executives were charged with corruption involving more than $150mn in bribes over a period of 24 years. They said their investigation exposed complex money laundering schemes, millions of dollars in untaxed incomes and tens of millions in offshore accounts held by FIFA officials.
Swiss police arrested the seven FIFA officials and detained them pending extradition proceedings to the US, which could take years if they contest the process.
“As charged in the indictment, the defendants fostered a culture of corruption and greed that created an uneven playing field for the biggest sport in the world,” said FBI Director James Comey. “Undisclosed and illegal payments, kickbacks, and bribes became a way of doing business at FIFA.”
Separate from the US investigation, Swiss prosecutors said they had opened their own criminal proceedings against unidentified people on suspicion of mismanagement and money laundering related to the awarding of rights to host the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 event in Qatar.
US Attorney General Loretta Lynch told reporters at a news conference in New York her office did not want to impede the 2018 and 2022 World Cups but looked forward to working with Swiss authorities investigating the award of the tournaments. “FIFA has a lot of soul searching to do,” she said.
One of those indicted, former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner of Trinidad, solicited $10mn in bribes from the South African government to host the 2010 World Cup, the Justice Department said.
Warner directed a number of co-conspirators to arrange the payment, which was eventually sent from a FIFA account in Switzerland to a Bank of America account in New York that Warner controlled, the indictment said.
Warner, former FIFA vice president and executive committee member of CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America, Caribbean Association Football), said in a statement that he was innocent of any charges.
The US took jurisdiction of the case in part because the Internal Revenue Service and the FBI secured the cooperation of US citizen Chuck Blazer, a former top FIFA official, who US officials said had not paid taxes for years.
Another person charged is Jeffrey Webb, head of CONCACAF, based in Miami.
Early yesterday, FBI agents carrying bags and boxes to execute a search warrant went into the group’s office in Miami Beach. A CONCACAF spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
Kelly Currie, the acting US attorney in Brooklyn said yesterday’s charges brought in the New York City borough represent “the beginning of our effort, not the end.”
In addition to Blazer, 70, others who pleaded guilty were José Hawilla, 71, owner of the Traffic Group, a sports marketing firm founded in Brazil, and two of his companies; Daryan Warner, 46, and Daryll Warner, 40, sons of Jack Warner.
“It is clear that the case is based in large part on some cooperating insiders who have already plead guilty,” said Miami lawyer David Weinstein, former prosecutor.
The FIFA officials appeared to have walked into a trap set by US and Swiss authorities. The arrests were made at dawn at a plush Zurich hotel, the Baur au Lac, where FIFA officials are staying before the vote. Suites at the hotel cost up to $4,000 a night.
FIFA called the arrests a “difficult moment” but said Blatter would seek another term as FIFA head as planned and the upcoming World Cups would go ahead as intended.
The arrests could have implications for sponsorship. German sportswear company Adidas, long associated with FIFA, said the football body should do more to establish transparent compliance standards. Anheuser-Busch InBev ABI.BR, whose Budweiser brand is a sponsor of the 2018 World Cup, said yesterday that it is closely monitoring developments at FIFA.
Data and documents were seized from computers at FIFA’s Zurich headquarters, the Swiss prosecutors said.
Officials said that following the arrests, accounts at several banks in Switzerland had been blocked.
The US Department of Justice named those arrested in Zurich as: Webb, Eduardo Li, Julio Rocha, Costas Takkas, Eugenio Figueredo, Rafael Esquivel and José Maria Marin.
The DoJ said the defendants included US and South American sports marketing executives said to have paid and agreed to pay “well over $150mn in bribes and kickbacks to obtain lucrative media and marketing rights to international soccer tournaments”.
Lynch said in a statement that the charges span “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.”
The international governing body of football collects billions of dollars in revenue, mostly from sponsorship and television rights for World Cups. It has been dogged by reports of corruption which it says it investigates itself.
FIFA’s decision to award the World Cup to Qatar was heavily criticised by football officials in Western countries. FIFA was forced to acknowledge that it is too hot to play football there in the summer when the tournament is traditionally held, forcing schedules around the globe to be rewritten to move the event.
A Russian official said his country would still host the 2018 World Cup.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the arrests were “another case of the illegal extraterritorial application of US laws”.
Three years ago FIFA hired a former US prosecutor to examine allegations of bribery over the awarding of the World Cups to Qatar and Russia. However, last year it refused to publish his report, releasing only a summary in which it said there were no major irregularities. The investigator quit, saying his report had been mischaracterised. Reuters/Zurich and New York