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U.S. Attorney General: FIFA Took Bribes For 2010 World Cup

  • RFE/RL

Walter de Gregorio, FIFA's director of communications and public affairs, holds a news conference at FIFA headquarters in Zurich on May 27.

Walter de Gregorio, FIFA's director of communications and public affairs, holds a news conference at FIFA headquarters in Zurich on May 27.

U.S. authorities say FIFA executives accepted bribes to help secure the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch was giving details of a U.S. investigation into soccer's governing body at a press conference in Washington on May 27.

She also alleged bribery was involved in FIFA’s 2011 elections for president and the 2016 Copa America tournament, due to take place in the United States.

Earlier on May 27, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice said seven soccer officials had been arrested and detained pending extradition at the request of U.S. authorities ahead of the FIFA congress in Zurich.

They are among 14 indicted in the United States on corruption charges.

The Swiss have opened criminal proceedings against individuals on suspicion of mismanagement and money laundering related to the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, to be held in Russia and Qatar, respectively.

Moscow: 'Illegal' Use Of U.S. Law

Russia has called the arrests of FIFA officials in Switzerland "another case of illegal extraterritorial application of U.S. law."

The Russian Foreign Ministry urged Washington on May 27 "to stop trying to set itself up as a judge far outside its borders and to follow the generally accepted international legal procedures."

It also said it hoped the arrests will not be used to tarnish FIFA's image and will not cast a shadow on the organization's decisions.

FIFA spokesman Walter de Gregorio told a hastily arranged news conference that FIFA General Secretary Jeropme Valcke and President Sepp Blatter were not involved in the Swiss corruption probe.

Despite the probe, De Gregorio said the FIFA congress and vote for new president will go ahead on May 29 and ruled out re-votes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Blatter is seeking a fifth term on May 29. De Gregorio told the media that Blatter was calm about the indictments but "not dancing in his office."

Jeffrey Webb, current FIFA vice president and executive committee member and the president of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), was among those arrested in Zurich.

The Justice Deprtment statement also named Julio Rocha, current FIFA development officer, and Eugenio Figueredo, current FIFA vice president and executive committee member, among the list of those indicted.

The statement added that a search warrant is being executed at CONCACAF headquarters in Miami, Florida.

Based on reporting by the BBC, AP, Reuters, and AFP
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