THE world of football was thrown into tumult on Wednesday, May 27, following the arrest of seven officials of the FIFA, the world football body. The Swiss police arrested the FIFA officials in a Zurich hotel as part of a United States investigation into tens of millions of dollars of bribes.
Coming two days before Sepp Blatter, FIFA president, re-election’s election bid as head of football’s world governing body, the scandal threatened to scuttle election process. But Blatter, who was being challenged at the election by Prince Ali bin al Hussein of Jordan, a FIFA vice-president, said the election scheduled for Friday, May 29, should go ahead.
Prominent among those arrested was Jeffrey Webb, a former vice-president of the FIFA.
The Swiss justice ministry said only seven football officials had been detained following a request from the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
It said they were suspected of accepting “bribes and kick-backs between the early 1990s and the present day.”
A ministry statement said that “representatives of sports media and sports marketing companies were alleged to be implicated in payments to top football organisation officials,” including delegates of FIFA and people linked to the world body.
It said the bribes were paid “in exchange for the media rights and the marketing rights for competitions in the United States and South America.”
“According to the US request, these crimes were agreed and prepared in the US, and payments were carried out via US banks,” the statement said.
FIFA leaders, including Blatter, were staying at the luxury Baur du Lac ahead of the world body’s annual congress starting Thursday before the presidential election on Friday.
Blatter made no immediate comment. He is a strong favourite to win a fifth term but it was not known whether the arrests would impact the election. On his part, al Hussein described the arrests a “sad day” for football.
Blatter, who has led the FIFA since 1998, has had to deal with several allegations involving the multi-billion dollar world body.
The latest has been over the award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar. But Qatar has strongly denied any wrongdoing linked to its bid.
The arrests have caused so many reactions across the globe with some persons asking for the postponement of the election and Blatter to set down. But others alleged that the development was a planned coup against the FIFA boss.
— Jun 8, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT