The United States department of justice on Wednesday charged nine Fifa officials and five corporate marketing executives with corruption, racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud.
Seven of them were arrested by Swiss authorities at a Zurich hotel, where Fifa, world body administering soccer, is headquartered shortly before the indictments were announced.
Soccer officials alleged mohave received well over $150 million since 1991 in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for favors done to the charged sports marketing executives.
The United States has also alleged that some of these payments were made to influence the selection of the host country for the 2010 world cup, South Africa, but it gave out no details.
The charged soccer officials include Fifa vice-president Jeffrey Webb, who is in charge of organization’s north American operations, including the US.
Other FIFA officials included those running the sport in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela and those encourage with Olympics soccer tournaments.
The four indicted executives were heads of two Argentina-based sports marketing companies, one from the US, and one from a broadcasting company who served as an intermediary.
Four people investigated have already pleaded guilty and they include sons of a Trinidad official, an American official and an executive from a Brazilian company.
The defendants are alleged to have all made money by abusing their powers regarding the grant of marketing and media rights for Fifa’s tournaments worldwide.
“The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States,” said Attorney General Lynch, announcing the indictments.
“It spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.”
The indictments were unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn, New York early on Wednesday morning, as details of the allegations and arrests trickled in form Zurich.
Swiss authorities have said the arrests were made at the request of the United States, whose investigators continue to raid and search related premises and facilities.
Headquarters of CONCACAF, the body that oversees soccer in 41 nations including the United States, were being searched in Florida, the justice department said in a statement.
New York Times Journalists, Michael S. Schmidt and Sam Border, tweeted about the incident from Zurich.
Picture of plainclothes Swiss police showing documents to FIFA hotel clerk: pic.twitter.com/LVV8Ai9hxt— Sam Borden (@SamBorden) May 27, 2015
Swiss law enforcement getting room numbers for FIFA execs they are heading upstairs to arrest pic.twitter.com/F69djqpcu5— Michael S. Schmidt (@MichaelSSchmidt) May 27, 2015
Swiss agent just walked out of hotel with two bags of evidence— Michael S. Schmidt (@MichaelSSchmidt) May 27, 2015
Hotel staff trying to use sheets to hide officials as they exit. pic.twitter.com/o0VFKuFnQi— Sam Borden (@SamBorden) May 27, 2015
sources tell me sepp blatter is not among the fifa officials who are being arrested— Michael S. Schmidt (@MichaelSSchmidt) May 27, 2015