About Damn Time: Nine FIFA Officials Arrested in Switzerland on Corruption Charges
Early Wednesday morning, Swiss authorities arrested nine top FIFA officials at their Zurich hotel, where they were gathered for FIFA’s annual meeting. The raid came as the result of an extensive investigation by the FBI, which resulted in federal charges of bribery, money laundering, racketeering, and wire fraud from the United States Justice Department.
In case you were wondering, United State laws created to combat terrorism give the Justice Department broad authority to bring charges against foreign nationals living abroad. There just has to be some link to the States, such as use of an American bank, or even an internet service provider.
That said, this is not another a case of American Cowboyism, wherein the USA swoops in to clean up everybody else’s mess whether they like it or not. Swiss authorities have been very cooperative and will now happily extradite the accused to the United States. More importantly, they announced that they had opened their own separate criminal investigation into the bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, and that electronic data and documents had been seized at FIFA’s head office in Zurich.
In short, it looks like Switzerland was getting tired of FIFA running their dirty, slimy operation out of their country, so they teamed up the with U.S. Justice Department to lay the smack down.
According to the U.S. indictment, several North American events were tainted by $150 million worth of bribes and kickbacks in exchange for media and marketing rights. Thus, in addition to the nine FIFA officials arrested in Zurich, five sports marketing executives from the United States and South America have also been charges.
Of course, the fact that FIFA is corrupt is hardly news. Bribery is an institution in FIFA. In 2012 a whistleblower claimed that several African officials took $1.5 million bribes in exchanged for giving their votes to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup. FIFA then started an investigation led by former U.S. attorney Michael Garcia, but he quit the job last summer when the head of FIFA’s ethics committee refused to abide by his findings. So thhese criminal charges were a longtime coming, and soccer fans around the world will be celebrating.
The only down side in all this? FIFA president Sepp Blatter was not among those arrested.
Hat Tip – [New York Times]