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Six FIFA officials arrested in Zurich over graft

Updated: 2015-05-27 14:29

Latest: Swiss authorities said on Wednesday they opened criminal proceedings against individuals on suspicion of mismanagement and money laundering related to the award of rights to host the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups.

Switzerland's Office of the Attorney General also said in a statement they had seized data and documents stored in IT systems at FIFA.

A spokeswoman for FIFA declined to comment.

Six FIFA officials arrested in Zurich over graft

A general view shows the Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich, Switzerland, May 27, 2015.[Photo/Agencies]

ZURICH - Six soccer officials, including some high-ranking members of world governing-body FIFA, were arrested by Swiss police on Wednesday and detained pending extradition to the United States.

The arrests were made shortly after a dawn at a Zurich hotel where FIFA officials are staying ahead of this week's FIFA presidential election.

The Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) released a statement saying the six officials, who were not formally named, were suspected by U.S. investigators of having received or paid bribes totaling millions of dollars.

The FOJ also confirmed that FIFA president Sepp Blatter was not among those arrested.

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

"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 and other functionaries of FIFA sub-organizations -- totaling more than US$100 million."

The New York Times, citing anonymous law enforcement officials, said the U.S. federal charges include racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud and span two decades of misconduct in soccer's world governing body.

More than 10 officials were expected to be indicted, but not all were in Zurich, the newspaper reported.

Most of the officials are in Switzerland for the FIFA Congress, where Blatter faces a challenge from Jordan's Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein in a presidential election on Friday when the Swiss administrator will attempt to secure a fifth term at the helm.

FIFA did not make any immediate comment on the arrests.

The New York Times said more than a dozen plain-clothed Swiss law enforcement officials arrived at Zurich's Baur au Lac hotel early on Wednesday, took keys from the registration desk and headed up to the rooms.


One FIFA official was led by the authorities from his room to a side-door exit of the hotel, the Times said, adding that officials from the body's powerful executive committee were being targeted.

"We're struck by just how long this went on for and how it touched nearly every part of what FIFA did," the Times quoted an unnamed law enforcement official as saying.

"It just seemed to permeate every element of the federation and was just their way of doing business. It seems like this corruption was institutionalized."

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