High-ranking FIFA Officials Arrested at Zurich Hotel
Two "high-ranking" Fifa officials have been arrested in dawn raids at a Swiss hotel on suspicion of accepting millions of dollars of bribes. Police swooped on the luxury Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich, where several Fifa officials were arrested in May. A two-day meeting of Fifa's executive committee is taking place in the city to vote on reforms. "Fifa became aware of the actions taken today by the US Department of Justice. "Fifa will continue to co-operate fully with the US investigation as permitted by Swiss law, as well as with the investigation being led by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General. Fifa will have no further comment on today's developments," football's world governing body said.
In May, seven Fifa officials were arrested at the same hotel at the request of a US investigation into corruption, as the organisation was engulfed by claims of widespread wrongdoing. The Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FoJ) has said the two people arrested overnight are alleged to have taken money for selling marketing rights in connection with football tournaments in Latin America, as well as World Cup qualifying matches. "A further two Fifa officials were arrested in Zurich today. They are being held in custody pending their extradition [to the US]. According to the US arrest requests, they are suspected of accepting bribes of millions of dollars," the Swiss FoJ said on Thursday.
Swiss officials said they would release the names of the two arrested people and the outcomes of the hearings later on Thursday. A Swiss criminal investigation into the bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups was also launched earlier this year, alongside the US inquiry. Fifa president Sepp Blatter, 79, and Uefa president Michel Platini, 60, a Fifa vice president, are currently suspended for 90 days after the Swiss attorney general opened criminal proceedings against Blatter. Fifa suspended the pair in October while Fifa's ethics committee investigates corruption claims against them. Both deny wrongdoing. Shortly after the original Fifa arrests in May, Blatter announced he would step down as president in February 2016 after 17 years in charge, despite having been re-elected the previous week. Two of the seven Fifa officials arrested in May, a then Fifa vice-president, Jeffrey Webb, and the former head of Brazilian football, Jose Maria Marin, did not contest their extradition to the US to face charges. The other five opposed extradition and are awaiting appeals against the move.