According to CNN, Senior Fifa officials were arrested on corruption charges described by America’s top justice official as “corruption that is rampant, systemic and deep-rooted,” in a morning raid as Swiss police open criminal investigations into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup awards, including the bidding process.
More than a dozen plainclothed officers reportedly descended on the five-star Baur au Lac hotel on Wednesday, where the officials had gathered for Fifa’s annual meeting.
The arrests were made on behalf of US authorities, following an FBI investigation that has been ongoing for at least three years. The US Department of Justice said authorities had charged 14 officials, nine of whom are current or former Fifa executives.
The FIFA officials according to CNN, were accused of taking bribes totaling more than $150 million and in return provided “lucrative media and marketing rights” to soccer tournaments as kickbacks over the past 24 years.
“The defendants fostered a culture of corruption and greed that created an uneven playing field for the biggest sport in the world,” FBI Director James Comey said in a news release. “Undisclosed and illegal payments, kickbacks and bribes became a way of doing business at FIFA.”
Those arrested in Zurich face extradition to the US, according to theGuardian.