FIFA corruptions arrests: Sepp Blatter not among six officials held by police
FIFA was plunged into crisis on this morning after Swiss authorities made early-morning arrests of a number of football officials.
Officers swooped on the five star Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich and arrested a number of officials, including FIFA vice-president Jeffrey Webb from the Cayman Islands.
FIFA members are in Zurich for their annual meeting on Friday, where controversial President Sepp Blatter is seeking a fifth term.
It has been reported that six FIFA officials have been arrested, but no names have been confirmed yet. Blatter is not understood to be one of them.
The New York Times has reported that charges include wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering, and that the United States Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch is due to hold a news conference later on Wednesday.
The Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) released this statement:
'The six soccer functionaries were arrested today in Zurich by the Zurich Cantonal Police.
The FOJ’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.'
Just last night Blatter hit back at claims from Luis Figo that he is a dictator. Blatter was also confident that he would be re-elected for a fifth term as FIFA president on Friday
Northern Ireland FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce sat beside the 79-year-old during last night's press conference and defended the FIFA chief.
"He has taken an awful lot of flak, but for the 209 associations they may view it differently and I think he will win the election comfortably," said Boyce.
"Sepp Blatter may not be a young man but when the associations ask him for things or invite him to occasions then he invariably helps them and visits them, and people appreciate that."
There is no suggestion that Boyce has been linked with corruption.