Officials from football’s world governing body Fifa took millions of dollars in bribes over 24 years to allocate tournaments and rig elections, a US investigation says.
Prosecutors said they had discovered a dozen schemes, including one awarding the 2010 World Cup to South Africa.
Fourteen people are indicted, seven of whom were held in Zurich on Wednesday.
Fifa president Sepp Blatter is not among them. Fifa still intends to hold its presidential election on Friday.
Swiss prosecutors have also opened a separate investigation into the bidding process for the World Cup tournaments in 2018 in Russia and 2022 in Qatar.
Those indicted in the US case are accused of accepting bribes and kickbacks estimated at more than $150m (£97m) over a 24-year period beginning in 1991.
Of the seven officials arrested in Zurich, six are contesting extradition to the US, Swiss authorities say.
Former Fifa vice president Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago, who was not one of those held in Switzerland, is accused of soliciting $10m in bribes from South Africa’s government over the hosting of the 2010 World Cup.
Mr Warner issued a statement saying he was innocent of any charges.
If convicted on racketeering charges, the defendants could face up to 20 years in prison.
Spelling out details of the US case , Attorney General Loretta Lynch said some Fifa executives had “used their positions to solicit bribes. They did this over and over, year after year, tournament after tournament.
“They corrupted the business of worldwide soccer to serve their interests and to enrich themselves.”
She alleged that some indicted individuals “engaged in bribery to decide who would televise games, where the games would be held and who would run the organisation overseeing organised soccer worldwide”.
Ms Lynch said the upcoming Fifa election had played no part in the timing of the indictments, and that although Fifa had a “lot of soul searching to do”, US law officials were not looking to have “an impact on the decisions” Fifa needed to make going forward.
However, Acting US Attorney for New York eastern district Kelly Currie warned this was the “beginning, not the end, of the investigation”.
The US officials said there were no allegations that any football matches were affected by the alleged corruption.
This article has 0 comment, leave your comment.