Football: Swiss arrest 7 top officials as FIFA scandal widens

Football: Swiss arrest 7 top officials as FIFA scandal widens
FIFA officials (from L to R, upper row): Rafael Esquivel, Nicolas Leoz, Jeffrey Webb, Jack Warner, Eduardo Li, Eugenio Figueredo and Jose Maria Marin. The seven men are among several soccer officials arrested, suspected of receiving bribes worth millions of dollars.

GENEVA - Swiss authorities on Wednesday said a seventh top football official was arrested following a US request in a corruption probe that has sent FIFA into turmoil.

Football's top body, based in the Swiss city of Zurich, has been plagued by corruption allegations over decades but Wednesday's shock arrests were the biggest blow to its reputation so far.

"In the course of the morning, a further wanted football official has been arrested further to a request from the United States," the attorney-general's office said, naming a seventh man.

It said the seven officials being held were Eugenio Figueredo, FIFA vice president and executive committee member from Uruguay; Costa Rican Eduardo Li, who was supposed to join the FIFA executive committee; and Brazilian football federation chief Jose Maria Marin, a member of FIFA's organising committee for the Olympic football tournaments.

The others were Nicaraguan Julio Rocha, Britons Costas Takkas and Jeffrey Webb, the FIFA vice president and executive committee member, and Rafael Esquivel, president of the Venezuelan Football Federation.

The arrests follow a US probe into a bribery and kickback scheme spanning two decades. After the Zurich arrests, the US Justice Department announced conspiracy and corruption charges against nine FIFA officials and five business executives.

Swiss police seized documents and electronic data after raiding the FIFA headquarters on Wednesday as part of a separate investigation already underway into money laundering and fraud involving the body's awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.

The attorney-general's office said it had also "ordered the blocking of accounts at several banks in Switzerland through which bribes are claimed to have flowed as well as the seizure of related bank documents." FIFA in a separate statement said it was "fully cooperating as injured party in the actions by Swiss authorities".

"FIFA welcomes actions that can help contribute to rooting out any wrongdoing in football," a statement said.

 

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