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Home » Sport » Football

FIFA Officials Held On $100m Corruption Charges

Several top FIFA officials have been arrested in Switzerland over allegations they were involved in paying bribes adding up to more than $100m (£64m).

Swiss authorities detained six officials in an early-morning operation in Zurich on suspicion of receiving and paying bribes, the AP news agency reported.

The arrests were carried out in order to extradite the officials to the United States, the Swiss government said.

Authorities have since raided FIFA's headquarters in the city, seizing documents, and say they have opened criminal proceedings in connection with the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.

US officials suspect the alleged bribes were agreed to and prepared in the US, and payments carried out via US banks, according to the Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FOJ).

The FOJ said the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York is investigating the individuals on suspicion of accepting bribes and kick-backs between the early 1990s and now.

Switzerland's justice ministry said in a statement: "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 (FIFA delegates) and other functionaries of FIFA sub-organisations - totaling more than $100 million."

The statement said the investigation was into allegations involving tournaments in Latin America and the US.

The US Justice Department said nine FIFA executives had been indicted for corruption, including two current Vice Presidents, along with five executives thought to be from sporting companies.

One of those detained in Zurich was FIFA Vice-President and north and central American and Caribbean football association head Jeffrey Webb, according to Press Association Sport.

Another was Costa Rica soccer federation president Eduardo Li, who was elected to FIFA's executive committee in March.

The arrests took place after more than a dozen plain-clothed Swiss police officers arrived unannounced at the Baur au Lac hotel.

The officials were in Switzerland ahead of an election which was expected to see FIFA President Sepp Blatter reinstated for a fifth term.

FIFA told AP that Blatter was not among the men arrested.

Swiss prosecuters later announced that they had opened separate 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".

They said they have seized "electronic data and documents" from FIFA's HQ in Zurich and are probing the contents of relevant Swiss bank accounts.

Ten executive committee members will be questioned over the allegations, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland said.

A statement said: "It is suspected that irregularities occurred in the allocation of the FIFA World Cups of 2018 and 2022.

"The corresponding unjust enrichment is suspected to have taken place at least partly in Switzerland. There are also suspicions of money laundering through Swiss bank accounts."

As FIFA said it was clarifying "the situation", Blatter's opponent in the presidential election Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan 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."

:: Correction: In an earlier report we suggested that Thai official, Worawi Makudi, had been arrested in connection with an FBI investigation. We now understand Mr Makudi is not amongst the FIFA officials arrested.

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