The US Justice Department is expanding its probe on FIFA and says we’re likely to see more officials being investigated. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch went after FIFA’s top brass, just days into being sworn in, over an elaborate system of bribes fed to those who control which country will host the world’s largest soccer tournament.
All eyes are on FIFA president Sepp Blatter and whether his recently discovered suspicious dealings will see him join the list of accused.
Lynch was speaking in Zurich, Switzerland, after meeting with Swiss officials including Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber. Lynch stunned the world of soccer when she said the May 14 indictment of FIFA officials was only the beginning.
Lynch said, "Separate and apart from the pending indictment, our investigation remains active and ongoing, and has in fact expanded since May. The scope of our investigation is not limited, and we are following the evidence where it leads. I am grateful for the significant cooperation and substantial evidence that we have received from all quarters. Based upon that cooperation and new evidence, we anticipate pursuing additional charges against individuals and entities."
Lynch, a career prosecutor, declined to explain further on which organizations or individuals would be investigated. She did say, however, that the investigations involved prosecutors from the U.S., Switzerland and other nations.
Lynch continued that "We have also begun coordinating closely with prosecutors and law enforcement officials from a number of other countries as well. I have been gratified to see that the response to this problem has not been limited to one country or even one continent.”
The FIFA investigations have gone after all but the FIFA president for over two decades Sepp Blatter. The Swiss native, however, has been seen by many as one of those likely to be indicted in the coming days of the investigations.
Just two days after the May 14 indictments, Blatter was re-elected for another term at the helm of world soccer’s governing body. Three days after being elected, however, Blatter declared he would be resigning from his position, possibly prevailed upon by the continuing probe.
Only recently did Swiss media house SRG, report being in possession of a contract where Blatter signed the sale of TV rights for South Africa and Brazil World Cups to Jack Warner for $600,000. Warner allegedly sold the same rights for over $20 million.
Blatter is yet to be charged with anything before a court. However, the soccer president has limited his travelling to avoid being extradited to the U.S. and being charged.
Questioned on whether the U.S. Justice Department had any plans for Blatter, Lynch said, "I'm not going to comment at this time on people who may or may not be subject to the next round of arrests, and so I’m not able to comment on Mr. Blatter’s travel plans.”
The FIFA investigations are growing as more officials and up to 121 bank accounts, including those owned by FIFA officials, are being investigated for suspicious dealings. After years of corrupt practices where soccer has suffered, the U.S. Justice Department appears set to finally restore order in the management of the world’s most popular sport.