Swiss police pounce on hotel meeting
Fifa officials arrested in football corruption probe
It is claimed that more than £100 million changed hands over a period of more than 20 years.
The officials were arrested at a Zurich hotel where the governing organisation of international football is meeting to vote for a new president.
The current holder of the post, Sepp Blatter, is not among those who have been arrested, said police.
However, it is understood that if the suspects agree to be extradited, they could be sent to the US later today. If they oppose the request, the US will have to make a formal extradition request.
The charges include money laundering, racketeering and wire fraud and have involved the highest offices in the US government and judiciary as the probe is said to involve funds flowing through the US financial system.
Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan – Sepp Blatter’s rival for Fifa presidency – and his advisers are expected to meet later today to discuss the impact of the arrests on the presidential election this Friday.
In a statement the Swiss authorities said: ‘The FOJ’s [Swiss Federation of Justice’s] arrest warrants were issued further to a request by the US authorities.
‘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 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 (Federation Internationale de Football Association) and other functionaries of Fifa sub-organisations – totalling more than US$100m.
“In return, it is believed that they received media, marketing, and sponsorship rights in connection with soccer tournaments in Latin America.
“According to the US request, these crimes were agreed and prepared in the US, and payments were carried out via US banks.”
According to a report in the New York Times, those arrested include the head of the Caribbean football association Jeffrey Webb, who has recently emerged as a key reform figure in Fifa.
Shares in Qatar, host of the 2022 World Cup, plunged to a two month low on fears that the tournament will not go ahead or will be boycotted by some of the big nations.