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Corruption Allegation Rocks FIFA

Posted: May 28, 2015 at 12:56 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

•Seven Arrested, 10 Under Criminal Investigation

•UEFA Wants Elections Postponed

By Peter Edema –  Group Sports Editor (with Agency reports)


World football governing body (FIFA) is marred in corruption allegation after the arrest of its senior figurers in two separate investigations.

The seven arrested officials – included Jeffrey Webb and former FIFA vice president Jack Warner – and five sports marketing executives. They were arrested for alleged racketeering, conspiracy and corruption between the early 1990s and the present day.

The arrests were made by plain-clothed Swiss police officers acting on behalf of the FBI. The officials had gathered in the Swiss city for Friday’s FIFA Presidential election but will now be extradited to the United States for questioning.

In a separate development, criminal proceedings have also begun against 10 people who took part in the voting for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups amid suspicions of bribery. Electronic data and documents have been seized from FIFA as part of a so-called “collection of evidence on cooperative basis”.

FIFA is the ‘injured party’ in these proceedings, with Sepp Blatter lodging the complaint after German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert’s summary of Michael Garcia’s investigation into the bidding process.

From the morning raid, Jeffrey Webb, president of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf), was among those arrested.

According to the New York Times his predecessor Jack Warner was also arrested, along with 83-year-old former FIFA vice-president Eugenio Figueredo from the Uruguayan football association and Eduardo Li, the president of the Costa Rica Football Association.

FIFA spokesman Walter De Gregorio stressed that Sepp Blatter’s position as FIFA President in any doubt.

“The president is not involved, how can you say he has to step down?” said De Gregorio. “He is the president, if he is re-elected then he is the president for the next four years.”

De Gregorio also said that the 2018 and 2022 World Cups would go ahead as planned in Russia and Qatar and respectively, as would the presidential election this Friday.

De Gregorio even claimed that the news was “good” for FIFA, saying, “You don’t believe me but I say again this for FIFA is good. It’s not good in terms of image and reputation but in terms of cleaning up this is good.”

A damaging day for FIFA took another turn for the worse after UEFA slammed world football’s governing body and called for Friday’s presidential election to be postponed.

“Today’s events are a disaster for FIFA and tarnish the image of football as a whole,” UEFA said in a statement.

“These events show, once again, that corruption is deeply rooted in FIFA’s culture. There is a need for the whole of FIFA to be “rebooted” and for a real reform to be carried out.”

The announcement comes after seven FIFA officials were arrested on charges of bribery, with the alleged sums involved exceeding $150m (£98m).

That prompted UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino to demand for the election – a head-to-head battle between incumbent Sepp Blatter and Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan – to be postponed.

“We strongly believe the FIFA Congress should be postponed with new FIFA presidential elections to be organised within the next six months,” Infantino told reporters at the Sheraton Hotel.