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Swiss police arrest Fifa officials in Zurich


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Six football officials have been arrested over corruption charges at governing body Fifa, at a hotel in Zurich, Switzerland.

The suspects, who are said to include a Fifa vice-president, have been detained pending extradition to the US.

It involves alleged bribes worth about $100m (£65m; €92m) over two decades.

Fifa members are gathering in Zurich for their annual meeting on Friday, where incumbent President Sepp Blatter is seeking a fifth term.

However, Mr Blatter is not understood to be one of those arrested.

'Seeking clarification'
The New York Times says plain-clothed police officers took the room keys from the reception of Baur au Lac hotel, where the officials were staying, and headed to their rooms. It said the operation was carried out peacefully.

Jeffrey Webb - head of the confederation for North and Central America and the Caribbean - has been named as one of the officials arrested, says the BBC's Richard Conway, who is at the Zurich hotel.

Other Fifa officials seen by the BBC escorted by police from the hotel include:

  • Costa Rica's Eduardo Li, who was due to join Fifa's executive committee on Friday
  • Uruguay's Eugenio Figueredo, president of South American football governing body Conmebol
  • Brazil's Jose Maria Marin, a member of Fifa's club committee. Police were seen carrying his suitcase and some of his possessions in plastic bags

A Fifa spokesman said the organisation was seeking to clarify the situation.

The Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) said in a statement on Wednesday that US authorities suspected the officials of receiving $100m worth of bribes since the early 1990s. The crimes were agreed to and prepared in the US via US bank accounts, it adds.

Swiss authorities can immediately approve the extradition, the statement continues.

The BBC has learned that Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan - Sepp Blatter's rival for Fifa presidency - and his advisers will meet later on Wednesday to discuss the impact of the arrests on the presidential election this Friday.

Earlier this month, Mr Blatter said he was aware some of his former colleagues were under investigation.

source BBC


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Fifa corruption arrests: Sepp Blatter 'not yet cleared' as football officials arrested in Switzerland face US charges - live updates

everal senior Fifa officials have been arrested in a dawn raid at a luxury Swiss hotel as part of an investigation into alleged “institutionalised corruption”.

Here are the latest updates:

  • Fifa officials arrested in corruption investigation

  • Police executed an early morning raid at a Zurich hotel

  • New York Times names indicted officials

  • Those charged include Fifa vice president Jeffrey Webb

  • US officials say president Sepp Blatter 'not yet cleared'

  • Allegations include wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering

  • Officials to be extradited to the US to face federal charges

  • They are being investigated on suspicion of the 'acceptance of bribes and kick-backs' worth more than $100m

This is exactly what Fifa stands accused of over the 2018 and 2022 World Cups
The IndependentWhile Fifa officials were arrested in relation to US corruption charges, a separate probe has been launched into the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Here is the Swiss Attorney General's statement in full:
28 minutes ago
There have been suggestions that Sepp Blatter is lobbying for the Fifa presidential elections, due to take place on Friday, to be delayed in the wake of this morning's developments.

Arsene Wenger has been holding a press conference this morning ahead of Arsenal's FA Cup final appearance, and faced plenty of questions on the Fifa developments.
The high-profile manager said he thought it would now be difficult for the presidential election to go ahead as planned.
And he said he thought it was time for all the rumour and speculation over the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to finally be put to bed.

Here are pictures of some of the Fifa officials arrested today. From left to right, starting at top: Rafael Esquivel, Nicolas Leoz, Jeffrey Webb, Jack Warner, Eduardo Li, Eugenio Figueredo and Jose Maria Marin (AFP)

  • Prince Ali Bin al Hussein of Jordan, who is challenging Sepp Blatter for the Fifa presidency, has issued a statement.
    "Today is a sad day for football," he said. "Clearly this is a developing story, the details of which are still emerging. It would not be appropriate to comment further at this time."
  • an hour ago
    A statement in German from the Swiss justice department says the indictment against Fifa officials involves "tournaments in the United States".

    Earlier statements have said the investigation goes back to the 1990s. The Fifa World Cup was hosted by the US in 1994, though any link to today's arrests remains unconfirmed.
  • an hour ago
    Ladbrokes have installed the US as second-favourites to host the 2022 World Cup today, after what some are calling their sensational "invasion" of Fifa this morning.

    The bookmaker still has Qatar, the current hosts, as 1/6 favourites to stay in the role.

    A spokesman said that after the arrests "nothing looks certain anymore", and so it is taking bets again in the event of Qatar being stripped of the tournament.

    Australia were named as third-most likely to host the 2022 competition on 8/1, followed by Germany on 12/1, South Korea and England on 25/1, and Japan on 33/1.
  • 2 hours ago
    The most senior Fifa official arrested today is believed to be its vice president Jeffrey Webb, who is also president of Concacaf.
    Concacaf (the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football), Fifa's North American regional body, reported itself to US tax authorities in 2012.
    Then based in New York, the organisation had not paid taxes over several years when its president was Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago and its secretary general was Chuck Blazer of the US.
    Warner left Fifaand Concacaf in 2011 to avoid sanctions in a bribery case. Blazer left in 2013 and is reported by the New York Daily News to be cooperating with the FBI in an investigation of corruption in football.
    Mr Webb, of the Cayman Islands, was Warner's successor as both Concacaf leader and Fifavice president, and staying at the Baur au Lac this week.

  • 2 hours ago
    Fifa's director of communications Walter de Gregorio is expected to take the press conference at 10am this morning.

    Earlier he confirmed Sepp Blatter was not among the men arrested, and said. "He is not involved at all."
  • 2 hours ago
    It seems the ever-accommodating staff at the five-star Baur au Lac hotel helped provide some privacy for the arrested officials following this morning's raids - using bed sheets to cover their exit by a side door.



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The BBC has learned that Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan - Sepp Blatter's rival for Fifa presidency - and his advisers will meet later on Wednesday to discuss the impact of the arrests on the presidential election this Friday.



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Key points: what the indictment says
Fifa 2011 presidential election

The former Fifa vice president Jack Warner attempted to rig 2011 presidential elections by paying delegates to vote for his preferred candidate, the indictment claims. Mr Warner is alleged to have arranged for envelopes containing $40,000 (£26,000) in cash to be given as a “gift” to officials in return for their votes.

After hearing that one of them had talked, it is claimed Mr Warner said: “There are some people here who think they are more pious than thou. If you’re pious, open a church. Our business is our business.” In a statement issued yesterday he said he was “innocent of any charges”.

The 2010 world cup

A bribery bidding war broke out in 2004 prior to the awarding of the 2010 finals to South Africa, the indictment claims. Jack Warner, then the president of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football, reportedly travelled to Morocco which was bidding to be hosts, where a bid committee offered to pay him $1m in exchange for his vote. The South African government was also prepared to pay $10m to “support the African diaspora”, the indictment states – a sum which was in fact offered in exchange for the votes of Mr Warner and two others.

The sportswear deal

The indictment claims bribes were paid to secure the sponsorship rights to the Brazilian national team for a US sportswear company after the 1994 World Cup. It is understood a middleman was involved rather than the company itself. Nike, sponsors of the Brazilian team since 1996, did not return requests for comment last night. The court document says tens of millions of dollars in bribes were also paid to South American Fifa officials to secure media and marketing rights to tournaments. Bribes were also paid to Concacaf officials to secure similar rights to Caribbean football tournaments, it says.

source independent


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Latest news he got 133 vote and the Jordanian got 77, so they need to repeat the election or something, To win you need 140 vote.


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Sepp Blatter wins Fifa presidential election: Welcome to the Seppocracy where the name of Fifa's president is a joke across the world

Things fell apart. The centre held. With Fifa’s top executives still locked up in detention centres all over town, world football’s governing body voted resoundingly for four more years of the same: Sepp Blatter.

“I’m not perfect,” he said, as the room erupted in applause. “Nobody’s perfect.

“I like you. I like my job. I like to be with you. I take the responsibility to bring back Fifa. "

It had been a long few days for Fifa's embattled President, though he's used to them, and his nautical metaphor failed him. "We will bring it back off-shore, back to the beach, football can be played, beach soccer. I am a faithful man. God, Allah or whatever it is spirit in the world that we believe, they will help us to bring back Fifa. I will do it with you.”

It took two rounds of votes, in the end, but it was a mere formality. 133 votes to Mr Blatter, 73 to Prince Ali bin Al Hussein took it, was three short of the two thirds majority required for a first round win.

But it didn’t matter. Fifa doesn’t do opinion polls, but it does do rumour, and when Asia’s sporting powerbroker-in-chief, the Kuwaiti Sheikh al-Sabah was photographed having a late night chat with his European counterpart, Michel Platini, the possibility of a last minute seismic shift of the tectonic plates became just that - a possibility.

It wasn’t to be. It was never to be.

“The eyes of the world are upon us, as they always are, his opponent Prince Al bin al Hussein had said. “But this time everything is at stake. There is nothing that can wash away the stain that marks us all. But even the darkest nights are broken by a new dawn.” It didn’t break. Not enough people, in the end, one, fancied a wash.

When you take the unimaginable wealth of football, generated in the most part by European clubs and American companies, and spread it out into every imaginable corner of the planet, don’t expect those on the margins to start spreading back the other way. A handful of blazers behind bars was never going to be enough to persuade them.

In England, the FA did its hand-wringing, issued its threat of a World Cup boycott that would never be tolerated by the fans, and the Prime Minister issued his platitudes. “How can it go on like this?” Perfectly easily, we now know for sure. It has always done so. When ever has another great dose of the same been the inducer of change? What cancer reacts to the sudden severity of its own symptoms by curing itself?

“I am being held accountable for the current storm. Well okay. So be it. I will shoulder that responsibility. I will take it,” Mr Blatter told the delegates in the minutes before the vote, at the end of two long days and seventeen long years of absolving himself of all responsibility for every last crisis that his beset his sham of an organisation.

Welcome to the Seppocracy. It is noble in its way, this organisation that, for one day a year when it meets for its Congress, has the outward appearance of a grand democracy. The cavernous chamber, the flag of every nation hanging from the ceiling. From Germany to Guam, one member, one vote. Each nation big and small marching one by one into the polling booths, its gravitas only enlarged by the Free Palestine and the Qatar anti-slavery protests going on outside. All nations are equal, in this inspiring vision of a retro-colonial world, where spits of sand in the Pacific and tiny African kingdoms finally hold sway over the great European powers, who rage with impotent anger and plot revolution that will not succeed.

But the crucial innovation of the Seppocracy is its parliament has no constituents. That link of accountability between ruler and subject has been purposely severed. The name of Fifa and its President is a joke on every last football terrace in the world, but it can make no difference. The fan, after all, is only where the money comes from, but who has been cut out of the process. Fifa, with its lunches and watches and private planes and five star hotels, exists as the tax on their passion, and it comes without representation.

Even without the intervention of the FBI or the Swiss Attorney General or the constant scandals, even without a single allegation ever made against Fifa, this absurd reincarnation of the United Nations for the sake of a game would be a money laundering scheme.

So on we go. To the “change that starts tomorrow” as Mr Blatter has promised, a change that will appear exactly the same as it has for the last seventeen years, and will in the coming weeks and months be re-engulfed by the next stages of the twin criminal investigations against it.

Then to Russia, and eventually to Qatar.

Abraham Lincoln, being no Sepp Blatter, only ever won the right to give two inaugural addresses, not five. Perhaps he should have been better at dodging bullets. There are a few words of his second address, delivered when his country’s civil war over the question of slavery was reaching its grim zenith, that are embossed on the wall of his memorial in Washington, just down the road from where the FBI are still going through the documents thrown up by twenty years of Fifa lies. “It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged.” On that question, Fifa’s family has given its judgement. In the long meantime, seven years of it, we will just have to get on with counting the bodies.

source independent


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Fifa President Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Sepp Blatter has warned his opponents that he would never forget the campaign of “hate” they had orchestrated against him, as United States tax authorities revealed that further corruption charges are expected.

The defiant Fifa president, who was re-elected on 29 May, claimed that the “English media” and US authorities had joined together to target him because the two countries were bitter at losing their bids to host the World Cup in 2018 and in 2022.

Asked whether he forgave the Uefa president, Michel Platini, who personally asked him to resign over the corruption scandal which has engulfed world football’s governing body, and who urged Fifa members to vote against him, Mr Blatter replied: “I forgive everyone but I don’t forget.”

The corruption allegations prompted the unusual public intervention of Prince William, who as a member of the Royal Family rarely speaks on controversial current events, but who praised an FA executive for taking a stand against Mr Blatter’s Fifa regime.

Mr Blatter, 79, has refused to step down despite the arrest of nine serving or former Fifa officials, who have been charged with accepting bribes and kickbacks totalling hundreds of millions of dollars. The allegations have plunged football’s governing body into the biggest crisis in its history.

Richard Weber, head of the US Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigations unit, hinted that more charges were expected but did not elaborate on whether Mr Blatter’s name would appear on the list of targets.

“I’m fairly confident that we will have another round of indictments,” Mr Weber told The New York Times. He added that the US had not been targeting Fifa specifically, as Mr Blatter suggested, but had simply followed a trail of wrongdoing. “We were going after corruption. One thing led to another, led to another and another,” he said.

Appearing in front of the media, Mr Blatter denied that he was the “high-ranking Fifa official” who according to the US indictment sanctioned a payment of $10m to Jack Warner, the former Concacaf president, in 2008. The money was allegedly offered by South Africa in an attempt to secure the right to host the 2010 World Cup.

“Definitely that’s not me,” he said. “This is a problem I do not enter. We will not go further. The only thing I can say is I have no 10 million dollars.”

Asked whether he feared being arrested in connection with the US corruption investigation, a visibly irritated Mr Blatter replied: “Arrested for what? Next question.”

Fifa is fighting corruption allegations on two fronts, as claims of “irregularities” in the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar are also being investigated by Swiss police, amid suspicions of “criminal mismanagement” and money laundering.

Uefa, European football’s governing body, previously warned that its members may choose to boycott the tournament in Russia if Mr Blatter was re-elected. The move is set to be discussed at a meeting ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final in Berlin.

Mr Blatter, who also announced there would be no changes to the allocation of World Cup places for the tournaments in Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022, said he planned to make a “personal visit” to Fifa’s sponsors to reassure them that the organisation would be able to weather the corruption storm. “Change will start tomorrow,” he promised.

During his opening remarks, Mr Blatter questioned why “three American journalists” had been waiting outside the luxury hotel in Zurich where seven Fifa officials were arrested on Wednesday morning.

Earlier he told Swiss TV station RTS: “No one is going to tell me that it was a simple coincidence this American attack two days before the elections of Fifa. It doesn’t smell right …. If they have a financial crime that regards American citizens, then they must arrest these people there and not in Zurich.

“There are signs that cannot be ignored. The Americans were the candidates for the World Cup of 2022 and they lost. The Engl ish were the candidates for 2018 and they lost, so it was really the English media and the American movement.”

Mr Blatter also criticised Football Association vice-chairman David Gill, who has refused to take up his post on Fifa’s executive board while the Swiss is still in charge, for boycotting its first meeting. “If you are elected you have to come, whoever is president of Fifa,” he said.

Mr Gill said in a statement: “This action is not something I take lightly, but the terribly damaging events of the last three days have convinced me it is not appropriate to be a member of the Fifa executive committee under the current leadership. My professional reputation is critical to me and I simply do not see how there will be change for the good of world football while Mr Blatter remains in post.”

Prince William, the FA President, intervened in the row to praise Mr Gill for leading “by example” in refusing to take up his position on Fifa’s executive committee.

“There seems to be huge disconnect between the sense of fair play that guides those playing and supporting the game, and the allegations of corruption that have long lingered around the management of the sport internationally,” he said.

“Fifa must now show that it can represent the interests of fair play and put the sport first. Those backing Fifa, such as sponsors and the regional confederations, must do their bit to press these reforms – we are doing football and its fans no favours if we do not.”

Mr Blatter claimed Fifa’s executive committee had “reaffirmed its unity and its solidarity” in the wake of the corruption scandal – despite the fact that two of its members, Jeffrey Webb and Eduardo Li, are being held in custody over the US charges.

One new member is the Tunisian Football Federation chief, Tarek Bouchamaoui, a close ally of the country’s former president Ben Ali, whose 2011 overthrow sparked the Arab Spring uprisings. Mr Bouchamaoui was also recently named in connection with tax evasion schemes organised by HSBC’s private bank in Switzerland – but he has not been charged with any offences and has been allowed to join the Fifa committee.

Mr Blatter blamed the situation on Uefa, which has blocked Fifa from controlling who joins the committee, leaving decisions in the hands of regional confederations.

The Football Association chairman, Greg Dyke, who previously backed the idea of a co-ordinated European boycott of the World Cup, said Mr Blatter had been given a “bloody nose” by the events of the past few days, adding that he would be “very surprised” if he was still in the job in two years’ time.

One of Mr Blatter’s few supporters is the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, who wrote to congratulate him on his re-election. “Over the 17 years that you have stood at the head of Fifa, you have acquired great respect among fans, coaches and players,” he wrote. “Your experience and organisational talent, and your efforts aimed at consistently expanding football’s geography will serve to further develop and increase the popularity of this ‘number one sport’ that unites millions of fans all over the world.”

source independent


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Vladimir Putin has this to say about Sepp Blatter's re-election

Over the 17 years that you have stood at the head of Fifa, you have acquired great respect among fans, coaches and players. I am certain that your experience and organisational talent, and your efforts aimed at consistently expanding football’s geography will serve to further develop and increase the popularity of this ‘number one sport’ that unites millions of fans all over the world.

I would like to stress that Russia is ready for further close and constructive cooperation with Fifa, which is especially important ahead of the 2018 World Cup. I am confident that through our joint efforts, we will hold an exceptional championship from an organisational and athletic standpoint.

source independent


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Fifa: Sepp Blatter to quit as president amid corruption scandal
Sepp Blatter says he will resign as president of football's governing body Fifa amid a corruption scandal.

In announcing his exit, the 79-year-old has called an extraordinary Fifa congress "as soon as possible" to elect a new president.