More FIFA officials have been arrested, as American and Swiss authorities have charged sixteen new individuals with practices of corruption. This latest move nearly doubles the size of an already massive case that has put a major stain on the multi-billion international governing body of soccer.
Some of the arrests occurred at the very same hotel where other FIFA officials were arrested earlier this year in May. The raid took place at 6 am local time, and visitors in the hotel lobby were asked to leave because of an “extreme situation”.
In the end, several current and former FIFA officials were charged with racketeering, money laundering and fraud. Soccer leaders in South and Central America were the most heavily affected by the new charges.
Among those arrested include CONCACAF President Alfredo Hawit, who is responsible for FIFA events in North and Central America, and CONMEBOL President Juan Ángel Napout, who oversees FIFA events in South America. Both of these men are vice presidents of FIFA, and they are members of the executive committee of the organization.
Other individuals who were arrested include former president of the Brazilian Soccer Federation Ricardo Teixeira and the federation’s current president Marco Polo del Nero.
FIFA said in a statement, “FIFA became aware of the actions taken today by the U.S. Department of Justice. FIFA will continue to cooperate fully with the U.S. investigation as permitted by Swiss law, as well as with the investigation being led by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General.”
The entire list of people arrested in the latest sweep has not yet been released. However, law enforcement officials have stated that the list does not include longtime former FIFA president Sepp Blatter or suspended secretary general of FIFA Jérôme Valcke.
FIFA officials have been accused of accepting millions of dollars in bribes regarding the sale of marketing rights for qualifying matches of the FIFA World Cup. It is possible that both Hawit and Napout will be extradited to the United States from Switzerland.
Last May, officials in the United States announced that 18 individuals associated with FIFA were facing charges. It has been reported that corruption in FIFA has been ongoing for more than two decades, as officials have rigged World Cup bids and used marketing and broadcasting contracts to solicit bribes. These accusations caused Sepp Blatter to quickly resign as FIFA president.
The arrests came just hours before executive committee members of FIFA were set to begin their meeting to discuss governance reforms. Many officials had stated that the reforms would have been a step in the right direction following the turmoil that has plagued the organization for the past several months.