FIFA is not in an enviable position right now. Although the soccer world’s governing body has been the focus of intense criticism for years, it appears that sh** has finally hit the fan.Six (some news outlets are reporting the number is actually seven) high-ranking officials were arrested in Zurich on Tuesday on charges of bribery and corruption and Switzerland has launched an investigation into the awarding of World Cups to Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.
FIFA addressed the arrests, investigations and other criminal proceedings with a brief statement on Wednesday morning:
FIFA welcomes actions that can help contribute to rooting out any wrongdoing in football. We understand that today’s actions by the Swiss Federal Office of Justice on behalf of the US authorities and the Swiss Office of the Attorney General (initiated by FIFA through the submission of the file on the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process) relate to different matters.
Firstly, the arrest of six individuals this morning in Zurich concerns investigations by theUS Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of the State of New York. The Swiss authorities, acting on behalf of their US counterparts, arrested the individuals for activities carried out in relation with CONCACAF and CONMEBOL business.
The second instance follows FIFA’s initiative of presenting the file on the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup™ bidding process to the Swiss Office of the Attorney General in November 2014. The authorities are taking the opportunity of the FIFA Congress to interview those FIFA Executive Committee members who are not Swiss residents who voted back in 2010 and are still in office.
Today, the Swiss Office of the Attorney General announced that it has opened criminal proceedings against persons unknown in relation to the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup™ bidding process. FIFA is fully cooperating with the investigation and is supporting the collection of evidence in this regard. As noted by the Swiss authorities, this collection of evidence is being carried out on a cooperative basis.
We are pleased to see that the investigation is being energetically pursued for the good of football and believe that it will help to reinforce measures that FIFA has already taken.