Earlier this morning, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, Acting U.S. Attorney Kelly T. Currie of the Eastern District of New York, together with Director James B. Comey of the FBI, Assistant Director in Charge Diego W. Rodriguez of the FBI’s New York Field Office, Chief Richard Weber of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) and Special Agent in Charge Erick Martinez of the IRS-CI’s Los Angeles Field Office announced that 14 defendants have been charged with racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering conspiracies, and other offenses, in a wide-ranging corruption scheme involving the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).
In addition, Attorney General Lynch also announced the arrests of seven of the defendants charged in the indictment (Jeffrey Webb, Eduardo Li, Julio Rocha, Costas Takkas, Eugenio Figueredo, Rafael Esquivel and José Maria Marin). Those arrests were made in Zurich at the request of the United States.
As a follow-up to the announcement, FIFA’s current president, Joseph “Sepp” Blatter, has released the following statement:
This is a difficult time for football, the fans and for FIFA as an organisation. We understand the disappointment that many have expressed and I know that the events of today will impact the way in which many people view us.
As unfortunate as these events are, it should be clear that we welcome the actions and the investigations by the US and Swiss authorities and believe that it will help to reinforce measures that FIFA has already taken to root out any wrongdoing in football.
While there will be many who are frustrated with the pace of change, I would like to stress the actions that we have taken and will continue to take. In fact, today’s action by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General was set in motion when we submitted a dossier to the Swiss authorities late last year.
Let me be clear: such misconduct has no place in football and we will ensure that those who engage in it are put out of the game. Following the events of today, the independent Ethics Committee – which is in the midst of its own proceedings regarding the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups – took swift action to provisionally ban those individuals named by the authorities from any football-related activities at the national and international level. These actions are on top of similar steps that FIFA has taken over the past year to exclude any members who violate our own Code of Ethics.
We will continue to work with the relevant authorities and we will work vigorously within FIFA in order to root out any misconduct, to regain your trust and ensure that football worldwide is free from wrongdoing.
Joseph “Sepp” Blatter, who has served since 1998, is the eight and current President of FIFA. Blatter, considered one of the most influential men in the world, coming in at #70 on Forbes’ list of Powerful People, was not indicted or arrested in connection with the scheme.
You can read more about the arrests and the indictment here.
This is a developing story and I’ll continue to post details as they are made available.