FIFA, the world governing body of football, is in the grip of a major crisis with several top officials arrested on charges of money laundering and bribery in Zurich on Wednesday.
According to a report in The Guardian, Swiss authorities conducted a raid in the five-star hotel which housed the officials prior to a scheduled annual meeting.
The Swiss authorities acted on behalf of US authorities. The FBI have been conducting investigations regarding charges of money-laundering and bribery by FIFA representatives during the awarding of the 2018 and the 2022 FIFA World Cups.
Fourteen officials have been reportedly charged out of which nine are current FIFA officials. Those arrested are expected to be extradited to the US.
A report by The Washington Post mentions that the Justice Department in the US has said that “U.S. and South American sports marketing executives who are alleged to have systematically paid and agreed to pay well over $150 million in bribes and kickbacks to obtain lucrative media and marketing rights to international soccer tournaments.”
The 2018 football World Cup was awarded to Russia and the 2022 edition to Qatar, and investigations into the bribery charges have been going on for quite a while now.
The governing body for football was scheduled to meet for an annual general meeting which was expected to re-elect Sepp Blatter as President. Blatter though had been lobbying for a re-scheduling of the meeting, according to the Guardian report.