Fifa officials – including vice-president Jeffrey Webb – were arrested in Switzerland today as part of an international investigation into bribes worth $100 million dollars spanning three decades.
Officers carried out a dawn raid on the five star Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich and arrested a number of officials on corruption charges, including Webb from the Cayman Islands, according to sources close to the world governing body.
It is understood that Fifa president Sepp Blatter, who is standing for re-election on Friday, is not among those arrested.
Swiss officials said the allegations date back to the 1990s and involve “the acceptance of bribes and kick-backs”.
The New York Times has reported that the charges include wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering, and that the United States attorney general Loretta Lynch is due to hold a news conference later today.
A statement from the Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) read: “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 kick-backs 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 100 million US dollars.
“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.”
Swiss officials said the suspects’ deportation could be sanctioned immediately.
The statement added: ” The Zurich Cantonal Police will question the detainees today on behalf of the FOJ regarding the US request for their arrest.
“A simplified procedure will apply for wanted persons who agree to their immediate extradition. The FOJ can immediately approve their extradition to the US and order its execution.
“However, if a wanted person opposes their extradition, the FOJ will invite the US to submit a formal extradition request within the deadline of 40 days specified in the bilateral extradition treaty.”