$150-million football scam: 7 FIFA officials arrested in Switzerland on US corruption charges

FBI agents bring out boxes after an operation inside the CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football) offices in Miami Beach, Florida, on May 27, 2015.Reuters

Seven top officials of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the world's football governing body, were arrested in Switzerland on Wednesday after they were indicted on corruption charges by the US Department of Justice.

The FIFA officials were arrested at dawn in a five-star hotel in Zurich, and now faces extradition from Switzerland to the United States.

The seven officials who were nabbed were among the 14 individuals whom the US justice department lodged charges against for allegedly accepting bribes and kickbacks that could reach some $150 million in a span of 24 years.

The seven arrested were: FIFA vice-president Jeffrey Webb, incoming FIFA executive committee member Eduardo Li, Venezuelan Football Federation president Rafael Esquivel, Fifa development officer Julio Rocha, South American football governing body president Eugenio Figueredo and British Costas Takkas.

FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, Nicolas Leoz, Aaron Davidson, Alejandro Burzaco, Jose Margulies, and Hugo and Mariano Jinkis were also indicted in the US on corruption charges.

A New York Times report detailed how some of the FIFA officials accepted millions of dollars to vote in favour of a country to host the World Cup.

For instance, FIFA executive committee member Warner allegedly received $10 million from South Africa for him to vote in favour of the country's hosting rights for the 2010 World Cup.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said these arrests are just the start of the Justice Department's efforts to go after corrupt officials in the FIFA.

"These individuals and organizations engaged in bribery to decide who would televise games, where the games would be held, and who would run the organization overseeing organized soccer worldwide," Lynch was quoted by The New York Times as saying.

"They did this over and over, year after year, tournament after tournament," she added.

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