Swiss police have arrested several officials of the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
The police have not gone into too much detail, speaking of ‘various measures’ according to the Swiss National News Agency (SDA).
The officials were arrested at Baur au Lac hotel were they had gathered ahead of their annual conference, scheduled to start on Friday.
The arrested officials are due to be extradited to the U.S. where they would face corruption charges.
Sepp Blatte, the current head of FIFA was expected to secure a fifth term as its leader in a vote on Friday. According to the New York Times he is not the target of the U.S. case against FIFA.
The New York Times said the arrests were carried out as officials from football’s world governing body were gathered at the Baur au Lac hotel here ahead of their annual congress Friday when the authorities raided the premises.
The charges they face include racketeering and money laundering in connection with alleged corruption in FIFA including World Cup bids and broadcasting deals, the report quoted law enforcement officials as saying.
Those detained included Eduardo Li, president of the Costa Rican football federation, the New York Times said.
Prosecutors were to unseal an indictment against several FIFA officials, including some not in Zurich, the report said, citing unnamed officials.
They included Jeffrey Webb, president of the Cayman Islands football association and FIFA vice president, Eugenio Figueredo of Uraguay, another FIFA vice president and former president of South America’s football association, and Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago, a ex-vice president of FIFA and president of the Carbinnean Football Union.
“The US attorney’s office for the eastern district of New York is investigating these individuals on suspicion of the acceptance of bribes and kickbacks between the early 1990s and the present day.
“The bribery suspects – representatives of sports media and sports promotion firms – are alleged to have been involved in schemes to make payments to the soccer functionaries – delegates of FIFA and other functionaries of FIFA sub-organisations – totalling more than US$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.”, a lpolice source here said.
Swiss authorities did not name those detained, but FIFA president Joseph Blatter was not one of the six, media reports quoted a FIFA spokesman as saying.
Blatter, 79, is widely expected to be releected for a fifth term as FIFA president when the congress votes on Friday. He is being opposed in the election by Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan.
Authorities are expected to release the names of those arrested later Wednesday.
Meanwhile football’s ruling body FIFA announces a news conference for 0900 GMT after the arrest of six football officials by Swiss authorities in connection with bribery allegations.
FIFA said that its communications director Walter De Gregorio will address the media at its headquarters in Zurich.
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