May 27, 2015 12:50 PM
THE LATEST: US must fight to extradite 6 FIFA officials
The Associated Press
ZURICH (AP) The Latest on FIFA developments:
6:35 p.m. (1635 GMT, 1635 a.m. EDT)
The Swiss justice ministry says U.S. authorities now have 40 days to submit a formal extradition request to Switzerland for six of seven FIFA officials arrested in a FIFA corruption probe.
U.S. corruption charges were unveiled Wednesday against 14 people, and seven of them, all FIFA officials, were arrested Wednesday morning in Zurich. Swiss officals say only one of those officials has agreed to a quick extradition to the United States. He could be handed over to U.S. officials shortly.
Swiss officials did not name those who had resisted extradition.
6:10 p.m. (1610 GMT, 1610 a.m. EDT)
The Swiss Justice Ministry says six of the seven FIFA officials arrested in Zurich in a U.S. corruption probe plan to fight being extradited to the U.S.
The legal battles started in court hearings Wednesday in Zurich, hours after the officials' early morning arrests at a luxury hotel on a U.S. warrant.
U.S. officials said those arrested include FIFA vice presidents Jeffrey Webb from the Cayman Islands and Eugenio Figueredo of Uruguay; as well as Eduardo Li of Costa Rica, Julio Rocha of Nicaragua, Costas Takkas of Britain, Rafael Esquivel of Venezuela and Jose Maria Marin of Brazil.
Swiss officials did not name the person who agreed to purse simplified extradition. That person could be handed over to U.S. authorities immediately.
5:45 p.m. (1545 GMT, 11:45 a.m. EDT)
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch says FIFA's looming presidential election set for Friday played no role in the timing of U.S. officials' decision to unveil extensive corruption charges against key FIFA officials.
U.S. corruption charges were unveiled Wednesday against 14 people, and seven of them, all FIFA officials, were arrested in Zurich.
Lynch told reporters that prosecutors "resolve cases when the evidence comes together" and couldn't take the forthcoming election into consideration.
FIFA said Wednesday that the presidential election will still go ahead. FIFA president Sepp Blatter is expected to handily win a fifth term against lone challenger Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan.
5:25 p.m. (1525 GMT, 11:25 a.m. EDT)
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch says investigators have found $110 million in bribes linked to the planning of the 2016 Copa America soccer tournament, which is being held in the U.S. for the first time.
Lynch said Wednesday that was just one example of a raft of corrupt schemes prosecutors say have tarred soccer and its worldwide governing body, FIFA. U.S. prosecutors have unveiled racketeering and other charges against 14 people. Seven FIFA officials were arrested Wednesday in Zurich, and prosecutors are looking for the others.
Lynch says the schemes involved officials at both soccer's North American governing entity, known as CONCACAF, and its South American counterpart, called CONMEBOL.
5:10 p.m. (1510 GMT, 11:10 a.m. EDT)
U.S. prosecutors say they have uncovered a dozen different schemes while investigating corruption at FIFA, the world soccer body and some of those schemes involved the awarding of the 2010 World Cup to South Africa.
At a news conference Wednesday in New York, acting Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Kelly T. Currie said nine of the schemes involved sports-marketing companies seeking a piece of the lucrative business surrounding FIFA events.
Currie says corrupt FIFA officials solicited bribes from sports marketing companies, which often made tens of millions in profits from soccer tournaments such as the World Cup. He says U.S. officials want "to send a message around the world that this behavior will not be tolerated."
4:45 p.m. (1445 GMT, 10:45 a.m. EDT)
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch says bribery and corruption have been marring soccer for at least 24 years as FIFA officials solicited bribes from sports marketing firms and others surrounding its marque events.
Lynch spoke Wednesday in New York as federal charges were unveiled against 14 people in a sweeping investigation of FIFA. Seven FIFA officials were arrested Wednesday in Zurich pending extradition to the U.S.
Swiss prosecutors, meanwhile, announced criminal proceedings Wednesday into FIFA's awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Lynch says, beginning in 1991, those involved "corrupted the business of worldwide soccer to serve their interests and to enrich themselves ... They did this over and over, year after year, tournament after tournament."
4:15 p.m. (1415 GMT, 10:15 a.m. EDT)
Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan says the arrests of seven FIFA officials in Zurich show that the world soccer body needs new leadership.
Prince Ali is the only candidate challenging FIFA chief Sepp Blatter in the presidential election Friday for the world soccer body an election that the 79-year-old Blatter is expected to win handily for a fifth term.
Prince Ali says "we cannot continue with the crisis in FIFA."
In his statement, the prince said "FIFA needs leadership that governs, guides and protects our national associations. ... Leadership that restores confidence in the hundreds of millions of football fans around the world."
FIFA said Wednesday that the election will still go ahead.
3:35 p.m. (1335 GMT, 9:35 a.m. EDT)
Jack Warner, a former FIFA vice president who has been indicted by U.S. authorities investigating corruption in soccer, says he is innocent of any charges.
Warner was among 14 defendants nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies in connection with a 24-year scheme to enrich themselves by corrupting soccer. Seven of the FIFA officials were arrested Wednesday in Zurich. Four other men pleaded guilty to the U.S. charges that were unsealed Wednesday and officials say those men included two sons of Warner
Warner, 72, says in a statement: "I have been afforded no due process and I have not even been questioned in this matter. I reiterate that I am innocent of any charges. I have walked away from the politics of world football."
Speaking on TV6 in his native Trinidad and Tobago, Warner said: "If the U.S. Justice Department wants me, they know where to find me. I sleep very soundly in the night."
3:25 p.m. (1315 GMT, 9:25 a.m. EDT)
Brazil soccer president Marco Polo Del Nero has blamed disgraced former FIFA executive committee member Ricardo Teixeira for the marketing contracts identified as corrupt by U.S. federal authorities.
Del Nero, who succeeded Teixeira as Brazil's delegate on the FIFA executive committee in 2012, says "there are no contracts" named in the American bribery investigation case signed since Teixeira left office.
The U.S. Justice Department said its wide-ranging racketeering case includes bribery linked to commercial deals for national Brazil Cup matches and the national team's contract with Nike.
Teixeira and his former father-in-law, Joao Havelange, took tens of millions of dollars in kickbacks from World Cup marketing deals before FIFA's marketing agency ISL collapsed into bankruptcy in 2001. Havelange was FIFA president for 24 years.
Former Brazil soccer chief Jose Maria Marin was one of seven FIFA officials arrested Wednesday by Swiss authorities in Zurich on a U.S. arrest warrant.
3 p.m. (1300 GMT, 9 a.m. EDT)
Four men have already pleaded guilty in the U.S. soccer corruption investigation involving bribes totaling more than $100 million.
Chuck Blazer, for nearly two decades the most senior American official at FIFA, the world soccer body, was among those whose guilty pleas were unsealed Wednesday by U.S. authorities.
Blazer had pocketed millions of dollars in marketing commissions and avoided paying taxes. He has been a cooperating witness for the FBI since leaving soccer in 2013 and has forfeited almost $2 million.
U.S. officials say guilty pleas were also given by Daryan Warner and Daryll Warner, sons of former senior FIFA official Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago; and Jose Hawilla, an executive of the Brazil-based sports marketing firm Traffic Sports. U.S. officials say Hawilla has agreed to forfeit over $151 million.
They face maximum jail terms of incarceration of 20 years, U.S. officials say.
2:40 p.m. (1240 GMT, 8:40 a.m. EDT)
Russia's top sports official says Russia acted completely within the law when it won the right to host the 2018 World Cup comments that came after Swiss prosecutors announced a criminal probe into that decision by FIFA, the world soccer body.
Swiss authorities announced Wednesday they are investigating the bidding for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 event in Qatar. In a separate U.S. probe into corruption and bribery in soccer, seven FIFA officials were arrested Wednesday in Zurich.
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who sits on the FIFA executive committee, told The Associated Press by telephone that "we've got nothing to hide" and "we're prepared to show everything."
He says Russia welcomes the Swiss investigation and it will not obstruct the hosting of the 2018 World Cup.
Mutko and Russia 2018 organizing committee head Alexei Sorokin both told The AP that they had not been contacted by investigators yet.
2:20 p.m. (1220 GMT, 8:20 a.m. EDT)
A spokesman for the European soccer body UEFA says its executive committee will discuss whether to call for a postponement of FIFA's presidential election after the arrests of seven FIFA officials in Zurich.
UEFA spokesman Pedro Pinto says that's one option on the table Wednesday at an emergency session in Warsaw chaired by UEFA President Michel Platini.
UEFA's leadership is supporting Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan in the FIFA ballot scheduled for Friday, where FIFA president Sepp Blatter is strongly favored to win a fifth, four-year term.
Blatter was not among the officials arrested Wednesday on a U.S. warrant and his spokesman says he is cooperating with all judicial authorities.
1:50 p.m. (1150 GMT, 7:50 a.m. EDT)
FIFA says there will be no re-vote for the 2018 and the 2022 World Cup host nations.
That announcement came Wednesday the same day that 7 FIFA officials were arrested in Zurich on a U.S. arrest warrant, the FBI raided the headquarters of the soccer body CONCACAF in Miami Beach and Swiss authorities announced a criminal investigation related to the awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.
FIFA spokesman Walter de Gregorio told reporters at a hastily arranged news conference in Zurich that "Russia and Qatar will be played."
In November, FIFA gave Swiss judicial authorities a report by Michael Garcia investigating corruption surrounding the selection of Russia and Qatar as World Cup hosts. De Gregorio promised Wednesday that the Garcia report will eventually be published to the public.
1:35 p.m. (1135 GMT, 7:35 a.m. EDT)
Agents from the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service have executed search warrants in a raid at CONCACAF headquarters in Miami Beach.
The raid early Wednesday morning on the organization that regulates soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean came just hours after Swiss authorities arrested seven FIFA officials in Zurich at the request of U.S. authorities.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said in a statement Wednesday that a U.S. "indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States."
The agents in Miami carried cardboard boxes, which could be used to hold evidence gathered from the scene, into the building.
Neither the FBI nor the IRS would comment on the U.S. investigation.
1:15 p.m. (1115 GMT, 7:15 a.m. EDT)
FIFA spokesman Walter de Gregorio says FIFA President Sepp Blatter "is calm" after the arrests of seven soccer officials in Zurich by Swiss authorities.
U.S. officials issued a warrant for the arrests of nine FIFA officials and Swiss authorities arrested seven of them early Wednesday in Zurich, where hundreds of soccer officials have gathered for the world soccer body's annual Congress. Blatter was not arrested and is running for a fifth term as president on Friday.
De Gregorio told a hastily called news conference that Blatter "is very calm, he sees what is happening, he is fully cooperating."
The spokesman says "the stress factor is a little bit higher than it was yesterday ... but he (Blatter) knows he was not involved."
De Gregorio added that Blatter "is not dancing in his office." He said FIFA's presidential election which Blatter is expected to win will take place as scheduled.
12:55 p.m. (1055 GMT, 6:55 a.m. EDT)
U.S. authorities say two current FIFA vice presidents are among the seven soccer officials arrested and detained in Zurich by Swiss police at the request of U.S. authorities.
The U.S. Department of Justice says FIFA vice presidents Jeffrey Webb from the Cayman Islands and Eugenio Figueredo of Uruguay were arrested early Wednesday at the lakeside Baur au Lac Hotel in Zurich.
The others arrested included Eduardo Li of Costa Rica, Julio Rocha of Nicaragua, Costas Takkas of Britain, Rafael Esquivel of Venezuela and Jose Maria Marin of Brazil. All seven are connected with the regional soccer confederations of North and South America.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said in a statement Wednesday that "the indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States."
12:35 p.m. (1035 GMT, 6:35 a.m. EDT)
FIFA spokesman Walter de Gregorio says it's no surprise that Swiss authorities have made arrests in relation to a corruption probe involving the world soccer body. He says it's only a surprise that the arrests came Wednesday.
De Gregorio says FIFA itself turned over to Swiss judicial authorities last November the report by investigator Michael Garcia into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar. So he said the arrests were "the consequences of what we initiated."
Six soccer officials were arrested early Wednesday in Zurich by Swiss authorities relating to a U.S. corruption probe. Hours later, Swiss federal prosecutors announced they have opened separate criminal proceedings related to the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
12:05 p.m. (1005 GMT, 6:05 a.m. EDT)
FIFA spokesman Walter de Gregorio told reporters at a news conference that "FIFA is the damaged party" after two major legal developments erupted early Wednesday in Zurich, home to FIFA, the world soccer body.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter was not among those arrested and is running for a re-election this week.
De Gregorio says "it is once again FIFA suffering under the circumstances." He insisted that the FIFA Congress, which gathers soccer officials from all over the world, will go ahead as planned.
11:41 a.m. (0941 GMT, 5:41 a.m. EDT)
The Swiss Federal Office of Justice said in a statement the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York is investigating the individuals on suspicion of the acceptance of bribes and kick-backs between the early 1990s and now.
"The bribery suspects representatives of sports media and sports promotion firms are alleged to have been involved in schemes to make payments to the soccer functionaries (FIFA delegates) and other functionaries of FIFA sub-organizations totaling more than USD 100 million," the FOJ statement said. "In return, it is believed that they received media, marketing, and sponsorship rights in connection with soccer tournaments in Latin America."
11:31 a.m. (0931 GMT, 5:31 a.m. EDT)
FIFA spokesman Walter de Gregorio told a hastily convened news conference in Zurich that FIFA's presidential election will take place as planned on Friday. Sepp Blatter is running for a fifth term. De Gregorio also ruled out any revote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups won by Russia and Qatar.
11:30 a.m. (0930 GMT, 5:30 a.m. EDT)
Swiss federal prosecutors have opened criminal proceedings related to the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, throwing FIFA deeper into crisis only hours after six soccer officials were arrested in a separate U.S. corruption probe.
The Swiss prosecutors' office said in a statement they seized "electronic data and documents" at FIFA's headquarters on Wednesday as part of their probe. And Swiss police said they will question 10 FIFA executive committee members who took part in the World Cup votes in December 2010.
The Swiss investigation against "persons unknown on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and of money laundering" again throws into the doubt the integrity of the voting to award Russia the 2018 World Cup and the 2022 tournament to Qatar.
The announcement came only hours after six soccer officials were arrested and detained by Swiss police pending extradition at the request of U.S. authorities after a raid at a luxury hotel in Zurich. FIFA President Sepp Blatter was not among them.