Swiss authorities arrested multiple FIFA officials Wednesday on charges of corruption and plan to extradite them to the United States, according to The New York Times.
More than a dozen plainclothes law enforcement officials arrived at the lavish Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich in the early hours of the morning – where FIFA's officials gathered for their annual meeting – and made the arrests.
The charges came from Brooklyn, N.Y., according to the Times, and allege widespread corruption within football's governing body – a revelation that will surprise precisely nobody.
The Times explains:
Several hours after the soccer officials were apprehended at the hotel, Swiss authorities said they had opened criminal cases related to the bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups — incidents that, more than any others, encapsulated FIFA’s unusual power dynamic. "In the course of said proceedings," the Swiss officials said, "electronic data and documents were seized today at FIFA’s head office in Zurich."
Prosecutors are reportedly set to indict more than 10 officials on wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering. According to the Associated Press, seven officials have already been arrested and detained pending extradition at the request of U.S. authorities ahead of the FIFA congress in Zurich.
Among them are vice presidents Jeffrey Webb and Eugenio Figueredo and Eduardo Li, the president of the Costa Rican football federation. In total, 14 people were named in the indictment.
Sepp Blatter, FIFA's longtime president who is up for re-election to a fifth term on Friday, was not charged.
FIFA, the multi billion-dollar organization that oversees the world's most popular sport, has been accused of accepting bribes for many years, most notably during the process that saw Qatar controversially awarded the 2022 World Cup.
"The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States," U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said. "It spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.
"And it has profoundly harmed a multitude of victims, from the youth leagues and developing countries that should benefit from the revenue generated by the commercial rights these organizations hold, to the fans at home and throughout the world whose support for the game makes those rights valuable.
"Today's action makes clear that this Department of Justice intends to end any such corrupt practices, to root out misconduct, and to bring wrongdoers to justice – and we look forward to continuing to work with other countries in this effort."
FIFA, as expected, released a brief statement on the matter, citing their cooperation with authorities:
with files from the Associated Press