Top FIFA officials arrested in Europe on U.S. corruption charges

police-van-fifa.jpgSwitzerland on Wednesday arrested several officials of international soccer's governing organization FIFA on charges of racketeering and corruption. The charges were brought by Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, who supervised the investigation while she was the U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn. FiFA president Sepp Blatter was not among those charged, and is expected to be reelected on Friday, but officials said the investigation is not over. The arrests were carried out at dawn at Zurich's Baur au Lac hotel, an elegant five-star hotel with views of the Alps and Lake Zurich. The soccer officials were there for FIFA's annual meeting. The U.S. will seek extradition of those arrested.

From the New York Times story, which carries four bylines:

The charges, backed by an F.B.I. investigation, allege widespread corruption in FIFA over the past two decades, involving bids for World Cups as well as marketing and broadcast deals, according to three law enforcement officials with direct knowledge of the case.

The indictment names 14 people on charges including racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy. In addition to senior soccer officials, the indictment is also expected to name sports-marketing executives from the United States and South America who are accused of paying more than $150 million in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for media deals associated with major soccer tournaments, according to one government official briefed on the matter.

The law enforcement official said the soccer officials charged are Jeffrey Webb, Eugenio Figueredo, Jack Warner, Eduardo Li, Julio Rocha, Costas Takkas, Rafael Esquivel, José Maria Marin and Nicolás Leoz.

Charges were also expected against the sports-marketing executives Alejandro Burzaco, Aaron Davidson, Hugo Jinkis and Mariano Jinkis. Authorities also charged José Margulies as an intermediary who facilitated illegal payments.

“We’re struck by just how long this went on for and how it touched nearly every part of what FIFA did,” said a law enforcement official. “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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