The Swiss Federal Office of Justice has detained and will attempt to extradite six delegates who were in Zurich ahead of the Fifa Congress on suspicion of accepting bribes
The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has confirmed that Concacaf president Jeffrey Webb is one of 14 people indicted for racketeering, fraud and money laundering following dawn raids in Switzerland.
An international law enforcement collaboration resulted in a 6am swoop at the Hotel Bauer au Lac in Zurich where officials were staying ahead of the 65th Fifa congress.
Police covered those detained with bed sheets as they led them to waiting cars, but now the DoJ has confirmed the names of those indicted along with information relating to the charges set to be brought against them.
“A 47-count indictment was unsealed early this morning in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, charging 14 defendants with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies, among other offenses, in connection with the defendants’ participation in a 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer. The guilty pleas of four individual defendants and two corporate defendants were also unsealed today,” explained a DoJ release.
“The defendants charged in the indictment include high-ranking officials of Fifa, the organisation responsible for the regulation and promotion of soccer worldwide, as well as leading officials of other soccer governing bodies that operate under the Fifa umbrella. Jeffrey Webb and Jack Warner – the current and former presidents of Concacaf, the continental confederation under Fifa headquartered in the United States – are among the soccer officials charged with racketeering and bribery offenses.”
The other leading figures to be indicted include former Conmebol president Nicolas Leoz, ex-CBF chief Jose Maria Marin and current Fifa big-wigs Edoardo Li, Julio Rocha and Eugenio Figueredo.
The world football governing body’s president Sepp Blatter was not arrested, but Swiss police – working in tandem with the US Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) – revealed six figures are set to be questioned over fraud allegations following Wednesday’s initial arrests.
“By order of the FOJ, six soccer officials were arrested in Zurich on Wednesday and detained pending extradition,” a statement from Zurich police confirmed.
“The US authorities suspect them of having received bribes totalling in the millions of US dollars. The FOJ’s arrest warrants were issued further to a request by the US authorities.
“The bribery suspects – sports media and promotion representatives – are alleged to have been involved in schemes to make payments to the soccer functionaries (delegates of Fifa and its 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.”
Zurich police confirmed the extradition process will begin immediately, subject to appeal.
The timing could not be more striking, with Blatter up for re-election as Fifa president on Friday – an election he is favourite to win against opponent Prince Ali bin al Hussein, who was reticent to pass judgement on the arrests.
“Today is a sad day for football,” the Jordanian said. “Clearly this is a developing story, the details of which are still emerging. It would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”