According to the New York Times plain-clothed Swiss police officers arrived unannounced at the five star Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich where FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) officials were staying. The officers went to the officials’ rooms to arrest them. The operation was carried out peacefully.
The Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) released a statement which said that six soccer functionaries had been arrested after United States authorities in New York had requested their arrest. The BBC said Seth Blatter is not understood to be 0ne of them.
Leaders of FIFA, football’s global governing body had gathered in Zurich for their annual meeting.
The charges allege wide ranging corruption in FIFA over many years.
The US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York is investigating these individuals on suspicion of accepting bribes and kick-backs since the early 1990s. The bribery suspects include representatives of sports media and sports promotion firms. They are alleged to have been involved in schemes to make payments to the soccer functionaries – delegates of FIFA and other functionaries of FIFA sub-organizations – totaling more than USD 100 million. 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.
The Zurich Cantonal Police will question those arrested before US extradition procedures begin.
Next on the agenda is a vote for the FIFA presidency. FIFA members will vote for a new president at their meeting in Zurich. The current FIFA president, 79-year old Sepp Blatter, who is seeking a fifth term is being challenged by Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan. Many have called for Mr Blatter to step down however he has stated that he is not responsible for the scandal. In a BBC interview, the Russian president Vladimir Putin expressed support for Mr. Blatter.
The vote results will be known soon. Many expect Mr Blatter to win due to his popularity among African, Asian and Latin American FIFA members.