FIFA is On Fire, as Six Officials Get Arrested for Corruption

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FIFA is once again involved in a corruption scandal. That’s nothing new. Some of you may remember John Oliver’s spot-on segment on the corruption, hypocrisy, and shame that is FIFA, and the ways they’ve used the World Cup to steal and enrich their officials.

It’s well-known that the international football association lacks transparency in their operations, but what comes as a huge surprise is the news that the U.S. Justice Department, with help of the F.B.I., is running a big case against FIFA.

In what is probably the hardest judicial hit to the association running soccer worldwide, six high level officials were arrested overnight at an elegant five-star hotel in Switzerland. The leaders of FIFA were gathered for their annual meeting, but now they will most likely be facing extradition to the United States.

Amongst the arrested were CONMEBOL president Eugenio Figueredo from Uruguay, CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb from the Cayman Islands, Costa Rican and Venezuelan Football Federation presidents Eduardo Li and Rafael Esquivel, and ex-CONMEBOL (South America) president Nicolás Leoz from Paraguay.

The Federal Office of Justice is accusing the FIFA officials of being involved in racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy. As Maradona once said, FIFA run like a mafia.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch supervised the FIFA investigation while she served as an attorney in Brooklyn, New York. “The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States,” she said. Through these schemes, television, marketing, and sponsorship rights for tournaments on the American continent were granted to certain media outlets. Swiss justice also confiscated electronic and paper documents from the FIFA offices in Zurich as part of a penal process regarding the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids that elected Russia and Qatar as hosts.

The main point on the agenda for the annual FIFA meeting – where the six officials were arrested – is the election of the FIFA president. Joseph Blatter, who will most likely be reelected for a fifth term, is ironically not being investigated (Despite being the most corrupt).

FIFA’s speaker Walter de Gregorio, stated that the presidential election programed for Friday would continue, and dismissed any allegations that Joseph Blatter and FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke might be involved in the corruption scheme.

Although Switzerland does not have an extradition agreement with the United States for fiscal crimes, they do for other types of criminal activity. FIFA has been criticized for their lack of transparency in which it manages its resources, and the little oversight of their Executive Committee.

Portuguese soccer legend Luis Figo, who was Joseph Blatter’s main opponent in the FIFA presidency elections, just recently renounced his candidacy, stating lack of transparency in the elections.

Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein from Jordan is the only opposition that Swiss Joseph Blatter will face for the presidency. Maybe this will be the last example for a while of lack of democratic processes in FIFA.