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Corruption scandal in the corridors of FIFA, presidential elections to come,Officials Arrested

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May 27th, 2015
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FIFA corruption scandal

FIFA corruption scandal

Zurich ( Agencies + DIPLOMAT.SO) – The Jordanian Prince is set for a run-off against current incumbent Sepp Blatter on Friday as the world football governing body is engulfed by controversy

Fifa presidential candidate Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan says that Fifa cannot be allowed to continue in its current guise under the regime of Sepp Blatter following the latest corruption scandal to rock world football’s governing body.

Seven arrests were made at the Baur Au Lac hotel in Zurich early on Wednesday morning as Fifa delegates assembled for the 65th Fifa Congress scheduled to take place on Thursday and Friday.

Among those detained by Swiss authorities at the request of the US Justice Department were current Fifa vice presidents Jeffrey Webb and Eugenio Figueredo as well as executive committee member-elect Eduardo Li of Costa Rica.

The seven arrested in Zurich, along with former confederation presidents Jack Warner and Nicolas Leoz as well as five businessmen, are facing extradition to the US on charges of money laundering, wire fraud and racketeering offences.

Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein

Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein

“We cannot continue with the crisis in Fifa, a crisis that has been ongoing and is not just relevant to the events of today,” a statement from the office of Prince Ali reads.

“Fifa needs leadership that governs, guides and protects our national associations. Leadership that accepts responsibility for its actions and does not pass blame. Leadership that restores confidence in the hundreds of millions of football fans around the world.”

Despite the ongoing controversy, Fifa has no plans to shelve the presidential elections which are due to take place on Friday. Prince Ali is the only other candidate in the running following the withdrawals of Michael van Praag and Luis Figo.

FIFA spokesman Walter de Gregorio

FIFA spokesman Walter de Gregorio

Uefa & FA turn the heat up on Blatter over Fifa election

Numerous arrests were made in the early hours of Wednesday morning ahead of the 65th Fifa Congress, with Concacaf president Jeffrey Webb, Fifa executive committee member Eduardo Li and outgoing Fifa vice-president Eugenio Figueredo among those detained in Switzerland. A total of 14 people have been indicted.

Nevertheless, Fifa’s head of communications and public affairs Walter De Gregorio refuted suggestions that president Sepp Blatter is trying to delay Friday’s election and confirmed it would go ahead as planned.

FA chairman Greg Dyke, though, says the arrests are a “very serious” matter and ought to merit a discussion into whether or not the elections should still take place – though, if it is confirmed, reiterated the FA’s support of Prince Ali.

“We should stress this morning’s developments are very serious for Fifa and its current leadership,” read a statement from Dyke on the FA’s official website.

“As one of the associations who nominated Prince Ali it will not surprise you to learn that if the election for president goes ahead The FA will be voting for him. However, there must be a question mark over whether the election should take place in these circumstances.

“Clearly things are changing very quickly and our delegation to the Fifa congress in Zurich, which I am leading, will discuss the position and what we should do about it with our colleagues in Uefa when we meet tomorrow morning.”

A statement from Uefa, meanwhile, read: “Uefa is astonished and saddened by the events which have taken place earlier today in Zurich and is now waiting for additional information.

“An informal meeting of the Uefa Executive Committee will take place this afternoon in Warsaw prior to the Uefa Europa League final to discuss the matter and further communication will be made in due course.”

It is expected the governing body of European football will discuss whether to formally request that Fifa postpone the presedential elections.

Fourteen people in total were indicted by the US Department of Justice, with four sports marketing executives and one other man in the broadcast business detained alongside the nine football officials.

FAI chief Delaney: Fifa scandal ‘like something out of a mafia movie’

The head of the Irish football governing body has reiterated his call for Sepp Blatter to step aside, describing Wednesday’s arrests as both shocking and saddening

The chief executive of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI), John Delaney, says that the arrests of Fifa officials “seems like something out of a mafia movie” adding that the news is “shocking and very saddening”.

Swiss police confirmed the arrest of seven top football officials in Zurich on Wednesday ahead of the 65th Fifa Congress, with Concacaf president Jeffrey Webb named among those under investigation.

Delaney, who called for Sepp Blatter to “step aside” on Tuesday, said that the FAI would not be voting for the incumbent to remain as president of Fifa in the elections on Friday.

“It seems like something out of a mafia movie,” Delaney said, speaking on RTE Radio One. “Nothing would surprise me with Fifa, that’s the sad thing about Fifa.

“When you wake up this morning and hear those events, it’s shocking and very saddening.

“The awards of World Cups are always covert and then there are independent reports that we don’t get to see. We’re told we’d get redacted versions and we don’t get those.

“There is always controversy around Fifa and its governance and the one person who has always been at the head of that is Sepp Blatter and he has to take some responsibility for that and that’s why I said yesterday that we wouldn’t be voting for him.”

Joseph Blatter

Joseph Blatter

Blatter ‘not dancing in his office’ but election will go ahead – Fifa

A string of arrests cast doubt over whether Friday’s presidential race would be concluded, but the world football governing body claims they are “the damaged party”

Fifa has confirmed the presidential election will go ahead on Friday despite claiming it is the “damaged party” in which seven officials were arrested over corruption claims.

A string of surprise arrests were made ahead of the 65th Fifa Congress on Wednesday by Swiss legal authorities to extradite them to USA over allegations regarding the laundering of funds in excess of $100 million.

Those who were arrested by the Federal Office of Justice in Zurich included Concacaf president Jeffrey Webb, Fifa executive committee member Eduardo Li and outgoing Fifa vice-president Eugenio Figueredo, though 14 were detained in Switzerland.

But Fifa’s head of communications and public affairs Walter De Gregorio claimed the arrests actually assist Fifa and refuted reports president Sepp Blatter is trying to delay the election, insisting the world football governing body pushed for the legal action.

“Fifa initiated this process on November 18 last year,” he told reporters. “Fifa lodged a legal complaint with the federal attorney that had to do with the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

“While the timing may not obviously be the best, Fifa welcomes this process and Fifa cooperates fully with the attorney general of Switzerland and Federal Office of Justice and it corresponds to all requests for information.

“I wish to repeat in this case Fifa is the damaged party, this leads to the fact that there were no searches within the offices of Fifa. The general secretary and the president [Blatter] are not involved.

“There was never such an idea to postpone either the congress or the election. One thing has nothing to do with the other so we go on with the agenda and the election will take place as planned.”

Although De Gregorio was keen to stress in Wednesday’s press conference that Fifa is satisfied with the “cleaning up” being done by legal authorities, he does not think it is fair to hold Blatter responsible for the actions of his Fifa colleagues.

“These arrests are not good in terms of image, it’s not good in terms of reputation but in terms of cleaning up this is a good thing,” he added. “It’s not a nice day, we have other things to do, but the process goes on and we are looking forward to the results.

“The damaged part are all of us. Football fans for sure but the president is not involved, how can you say Blatter has to step down? He is the president, if he is re-elected then he is the president for the next four years.

“Blatter is focused on the congress. The stress factor is higher today than it was yesterday but he is quite relaxed because he is not involved.

“He is not dancing in his office. He is just very calm, he is seeing what happens and is fully cooperative with everybody. He is not a really happy man today – saying ‘oh wow, this is really cool’ – but he knows this is the consequence of what we initiated. It’s a surprise that it happened today but it’s not a surprise that it happens.”

Many football fans on Twitter have called for the allocation of World Cup 2018 and 2022 respectively to be reconsidered amid Swiss criminal proceedings, but Fifa is refusing to reconsider such a possibility despite the arrests.

“No,” De Gregorio responded when asked the possibility of World Cup finals changing hands. “World Cup 2018 and 2022 will be played in Russia and Qatar.

“What do you expect from us? I mean, Russia and Qatar World Cups will be played. I won’t go into speculation about what will happen after today.”

HOTEL CLAMPDOWN, Fifa officials at the Baur au Lac residence in Zurich were arrested on Wednesday

HOTEL CLAMPDOWN, Fifa officials at the Baur au Lac residence in Zurich were arrested on Wednesday

2018 and 2022 World Cup finals under corruption investigation

The Swiss Attorney General’s Office has been handed electronic data and documents relating to potential money laundering ahead of the 2010 votes

Switzerland’s Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has opened criminal proceedings relating to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, with 10 people set to be questioned regarding criminal mismanagement and money laundering during the bid process which saw the finals awarded to Russia and Qatar.

Electronic data and documents from Fifa IT systems have been handed over to the OAG as part of what the Swiss authority has called a “collection of evidence on co-operative basis”, while relevant bank documents have already been seized regarding potential illegal activities ahead of the December 2010 votes.

An OAG statement explained:

“In the Swiss criminal proceedings, opened by the OAG on March 10, 2015, it is suspected that irregularities occurred in the allocation of the Fifa World Cups of 2018 and 2022.

“The corresponding unjust enrichment is suspected to have taken place at least partly in Switzerland. Furthermore, the head office of the damaged party, Fifa, is in Switzerland. For these reasons, investigations are being carried out on the suspicion of criminal mismanagement (Article 158 under 1, Section 3 Swiss Criminal Code / SCC).

“There are also suspicions of money laundering through Swiss bank accounts (Article 305bis, SCC). Subsequently to today’s seizure of files, the OAG and the Swiss Federal Criminal Police will be questioning 10 persons who took part in voting on the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups as members of the Executive Committee in 2010.

“These persons should be questioned as persons providing information.”

This investigation is separate from the US Attorney’s Office probe into criminal activity within Fifa which led to the arrest of seven senior officials in Zurich on Wednesday, with the Swiss Federal Office of Justice having carried out a swoop on a hotel housing Fifa’s top brass ahead of Friday’s Congress.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch

FIFA corruption charges: A look at the 14 people indicted

The U.S. Justice Department says nine soccer officials are among 14 people indicted on corruption charges.

A closer look at those indicted:

Jeffrey Webb – Current president of CONCACAF and FIFA vice president/executive committee member. Webb has held his position since 2012. In 2013, FIFA president Sepp Blatter appointed Webb to lead FIFA’s anti-discrimination task force. Last year, Webb called for the publishing of the Garcia Report, which documented allegations of corruption in the controversial bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Jack Warner – Former president of CONCACAF (1990-2011) and FIFA vice president/executive committee member. Amidst a storm of corruption and bribery allegations, Warner retired in 2011, which ended all FIFA ethics proceedings against him. In 2013, the CONCACAF Integrity Committee published a report that Warner committed fraud against CONCACAF and FIFA and had misappropriated funds from FIFA.

Eugenio Figueredo – Former president of CONMEBOL (South America), FIFA vice president and Uruguay federation president. A former player, the 83-year-old was president of CONMEBOL from 2013-2014 after serving as vice president from 1993-2013. He was in charge of Uruguay’s soccer federation from 1997-2006.

Nicolas Leoz – Former president of CONMEBOL (1986-2013) and FIFA executive committee member. The 86-year-old stepped down from FIFA and CONMNEBOL in 2013, citing health and personal issues. The resignation came after he was accused of taking kickbacks in the 1990s and an official for England’s 2018 World Cup bid claimed Leoz had demanded knighthood in exchange for his vote.

Eduardo Li – Current Costa Rica soccer federation president. Set to join FIFA’s executive committee this week, Li is also a member of the CONCACAF executive committee.

José Maria Marin – Current member of FIFA organizing committee for Olympic soccer and former president of the Brazilian soccer federation. Marin headed Brazil’s federation from March 2012-April 2015, and was in charge while the country hosted the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He is also on the committee for next year’s Olympic soccer tournament in Rio.

Julio Rocha – Current FIFA development officer, former Central American Football Union president and Nicaraguan soccer federation president.

Rafael Esquivel – Current CONMEBOL executive committee member and Venezuelan soccer federation president.

Costas Takkas – Current attaché to the CONCACAF president.

Alejandro Burzaco – Controlling principal of Torneos y Competencia, a sports marketing business based in Argentina.

Aaron Davidson – President of Traffic Sports USA and chairman of the board for the North American Soccer League.

Hugo and Mariano Jinkis – Controlling principals of Full Play Group, a sports marketing business based in Argentina.

Jose Marguiles – Formerly in the broadcasting industry, allegedly intermediary who facilitated illegal payments.

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