Swiss authorities have arrested seven leading FIFA officials in Zurich on racketeering and bribery charges brought by the United States and announced they have opened a criminal case in connection with the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
The seven are among 14 indicted on corruption charges, U.S authorities said. FIFA said it plans to go ahead with elections for president on Friday.
Incumbent president Sepp Blatter, who is seeking a fifth term, was not one of the seven high-ranking officials arrested.
FIFA also said on Wednesday there would be no rerun of the World Cup bidding processes which saw Russia awarded the tournament in 2018 and Qatar in 2022, despite the Swiss inquiry.
Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein of Jordan – Mr. Blatter’s rival for the FIFA presidency – described the arrests as “a sad day for football.
” FIFA’s Zurich headquarters has also been raided, with electronic data and documents seized.
The U.S justice department said 14 individuals were under investigation worldwide, including high-ranking FIFA officials, for allegedly accepting bribes and kickbacks worth $150m (£97m) over a 24-year period. They include:
Jeffrey Webb – current FIFA vice-president and executive committee member and president of the North American, Central American and Caribbean Football Federation (CONCACAF).
Eduardo Li – current FIFA executive committee member-elect, CONCACAF executive committee member and Costa Rican soccer federation (FEDEFUT) president.
Costas Takkas – current attaché to the CONCACAF president.
Eugenio Figueredo – current FIFA vice president and executive committee member. Former president of the South American football federation (CONMEBOL).
Rafael Esquivel, current CONMEBOL executive committee member and Venezuelan soccer federation (FVF) president.
Julio Rocha – current FIFA development officer. Former Central American Football Union (UNCAF) president and Nicaraguan soccer federation (FENIFUT) president.
Maria Marin – current member of the FIFA organising committee for Olympic football tournaments and former Brazilian football federation (CFB) president.
Nicolas Leoz – former FIFA executive committee member and CONMEBOL president.
They were arrested in a police operation at a five-star hotel in Zurich earlier on Wednesday.