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FIFA Corruption Scandal Widens With 16 More Indictments

  • VOA News

People are silhouetted outside the Baur au Lac hotel where Swiss police arrested FIFA officials, in Zurich, Switzerland, Dec. 3, 2015.

People are silhouetted outside the Baur au Lac hotel where Swiss police arrested FIFA officials, in Zurich, Switzerland, Dec. 3, 2015.

The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday said 16 more officials of FIFA, soccer's world governing body, had been indicted on racketeering, wire fraud and money-laundering charges, bringing the total number of individuals and entities charged to date to 41.

The new defendants included five current or former FIFA Executive Committee members and the current presidents of CONCACAF, the governing body for soccer in North America, Central America and the Caribbean, and CONMEBOL, South American soccer's governing body.

The guilty pleas of eight defendants, including three who were indicted last May in the first round of arrests, also were announced Thursday. Additional charges were levied against seven of the defendants still pending extradition from the first indictment.

The Justice Department said 12 individuals and two sports marketing companies already had been convicted as a result of the corruption investigation and that the convicted defendants had agreed to return more than $190 million. Also, more than $100 million has been restrained in the United States and abroad in connection with the alleged criminal activity.

Members of the media stand outside the Baur au Lac hotel where Swiss police arrested FIFA officials, in Zurich, Switzerland, Dec. 3, 2015.

Members of the media stand outside the Baur au Lac hotel where Swiss police arrested FIFA officials, in Zurich, Switzerland, Dec. 3, 2015.

The U.S. has issued mutual legal assistance requests seeking the restraint of assets in 13 countries.

“The Department of Justice is committed to ending the rampant corruption we have alleged amidst the leadership of international soccer — not only because of the scale of the schemes, or the brazenness and breadth of the operation required to sustain such corruption, but also because of the affront to international principles that this behavior represents,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

FILE - UEFA president Michel Platini (L) and FIFA president Sepp Blatter are seen in a Dec. 16, 2014, photo.

FILE - UEFA president Michel Platini (L) and FIFA president Sepp Blatter are seen in a Dec. 16, 2014, photo.

“For decades, these defendants used their power as the leaders of soccer federations throughout the world to create a web of corruption and greed that compromises the integrity of the beautiful game,” said FBI Director James Comey. “I want to thank all the agencies for their hard work and for showing the world that we do not tolerate this criminal activity.”

Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the authorities of the government of Switzerland — where FIFA has its headquarters — for "their continuing outstanding assistance and collaboration in this investigation, and to the authorities in a number of other countries, including Brazil and Colombia, for their assistance as well."

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