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FBI arrests 9 officials in 24-year FIFA scandal

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SWITZERLAND — Nine FIFA officials have been arrested in connection with an FBI investigation. The officials were arrested in Switzerland and are expected to be extradited to the states.

They are facing allegations they arranged bribes at meetings on U.S. soil, employed the U.S. banking system in conveying the bribes and created documents to cloak their activity, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Wednesday.

Allegedly included in the scandal, were “sponsorship of the Brazilian national soccer team by a major U.S. sportswear company,” the 2011 FIFA presidential election, and the placement of the 2010 World Cup.

Swiss authorities have said that the men in question are “on suspicion of the acceptance of bribes and kick-backs between the early 1990s and the present day” and those bribes are thought to be in excess of $150 million.

Among the men arrested: FIFA vice-president and the President of CONCACAF Jeffrey Webb.

Eduardo Li of Costa Rica, the current FIFA development officer Julio Rocha; Eugenio Figueredo of Uruguay and the deputy chief of the Brazilian FA Jose Maria Marin; former CONCACAF president Jack Warner; former CONMEBOL president Nicholas Leoz; former general secretary of the Cayman Islands Costas Takka, and president of the Venezuelan Football Association Rafael Esquivel are also on the list of alleged conspirators.

“The most serious are the racketeering charges, which allege that the officials turned soccer “into a criminal enterprise,” Lynch said. A conviction that could command a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

The indictment unsealed Wednesday “is the beginning of our work, not the end” of an effort to rid global soccer of corruption, said Kelly Currie, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

 

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