FIFA arrests show the dark side of the beautiful game
Swiss federal prosecutors opened criminal proceedings related to the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, throwing FIFA deeper into crisis only hours after six soccer officials were arrested Wednesday in a separate U.S. corruption probe.
The Swiss investigation against “persons unknown on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and of money laundering” again throws into the doubt the integrity of the voting to award Russia the 2018 World Cup and the 2022 tournament to Qatar.
The case involves bribes “totaling more than $100 million” linked to commercial deals dating back to the 1990’s for soccer tournaments in the United States and Latin America, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice said in a statement.
Dozens of soccer officials are in Switzerland for the FIFA congress and presidential election, where Blatter is widely expected to win a fifth term at the helm of the governing body of world soccer. “He is not one of the ones arrested. He is not involved at all,” FIFA spokesman Walter de Gregorio told The Associated Press. “We are trying to find out more from the police.”
FIFA also ruled out a revote of the hosting of World Cups won by Russia for 2018 and Qatar for 2022.
The Swiss prosecutors’ office said in a statement they seized “electronic data and documents” at FIFA’s headquarters on Wednesday as part of their probe. And Swiss police said they will question 10 FIFA executive committee members who took part in the World Cup votes in December 2010.