Soccer Officials Face U.S. Indictment and Extradition

Swiss police have arrested several FIFA officials and sports marketing executives on a U.S. grand jury indictment alleging corruption and bribery related charges. They will be extradited the the U.S. to face trial. The head honcho, Sepp Blatter, was not charged.

The charges, backed by an F.B.I. investigation, allege widespread corruption in FIFA over the past two decades, involving bids for World Cups as well as marketing and broadcast deals, according to three law enforcement officials with direct knowledge of the case.


The indictment names 14 people on charges including racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy. In addition to senior soccer officials, the indictment is also expected to name sports-marketing executives from the United States and South America who are accused of paying more than $150 million in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for media deals associated with major soccer tournaments, according to one government official briefed on the matter.

Here's who was arrested:

Jeffrey Webb, president of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf) and a major figure in Fifa politics, was among those detained. His predecessor, Jack Warner, was also arrested, according to the New York Times. The others held by Swiss police are: Eugenio Figueredo, a Uruguayan Association football executive and former footballer; Eduardo Li, president of the Costa Rican football federation; Julio Rocha, a Fifa development officer; Rafael Esquivel, president of the Venezuelan Football Federation; José Maria Marin, president of the Brazilian Football Confederation, and Nicolás Leoz, the former South American football president. Another suspect was named as Costas Takkas. Up to 15 officials are understood to be under investigation worldwide, so the arrests on Wednesday morning may be just the start.

Here's how events will unfold:

The Zurich Cantonal Police will question the detainees today on behalf of the FOJ regarding the US request for their arrest. A simplified procedure will apply for wanted persons who agree to their immediate extradition. The FOJ can immediately approve their extradition to the US and order its execution. However, if a wanted person opposes their extradition, the FOJ will invite the US to submit a formal extradition request within the deadline of 40 days specified in the bilateral extradition treaty.

Loretta Lynch supervised the investigation while U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn. I'm not sure why the U.S. is taking this on. It sounds like a needless waste of resources, both financial and judicial. It's not like we have extra bed space in our prisons. If DOJ has extra cash around, why not fund more offender reentry, prevention and treatment programs? Why not beef up spending for re-training programs for law enforcement to make their citizen encounters less hostile and threatening?

Since we do have readers who care about sports, I'm writing this so you have a place to discuss it. In case you don't already know this, on a score of 1 to 10, my knowledge of the case-- and my interest in the World Cup and soccer -- are at level 1.

I would like to know why the head honcho wasn't charged. Did he cooperate beforehand? Or is he just a lousy leader, unaware of what those under him are doing?

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    I would imagine (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by CST on Wed May 27, 2015 at 09:10:08 AM EST
    They don't have anything concrete on the top guy, and they are hoping one of the other 14 turns on him.

    I know it's "just sports" - but in this case it reaches into things that matter.

    The human rights abuses associated with the World Cup - and specifically the 2022 World Cup in Qatar (although there are other rampant problems elsewhere) are things any human being should care about.  Link.  It's widely accepted that Qatar won their bid through outright bribery.

    "The latest Guardian report adds to the mounting criticism from human rights organizations, corporate sponsors, and foreign officials on Qatar's World Cup preparations. A 2013 Guardian investigation estimated that at least 4,000 migrant workers, who face dire working and living conditions and meager pay, will die before kickoff in 2022. Squalid conditions already have led to more than 1,200 worker deaths since Qatar won its 2010 bid to host the World Cup"

    FIFA is a very powerful organization, and they are using that power in atrocious ways.  Good on Lynch.

    They say this is just the start (none / 0) (#20)
    by Militarytracy on Thu May 28, 2015 at 11:26:50 AM EST
    I suppose they hope someone will give him up.

    Gambling? (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Repack Rider on Wed May 27, 2015 at 10:07:32 AM EST
    In Casablanca?

    (I thought that was the unicorns.)

    Public corruption on any level ... (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed May 27, 2015 at 11:07:15 AM EST
    ... should be resolutely opposed by everyone who maintains an active working interest in sound governance.

    The questionable manner in which FIFA has long solicited bids from various countries for its worldwide events deserves the scrutiny its gotten, because the allegations of corruption and bribery have been on such an enormous scale that its effects go way above and beyond the sport of soccer itself.

    Just look at the documented human rights abuses of foreign workers in Qatar as a direct result of that country's receipt of the 2022 World Cup. As such, the Justice Dept. investigation is absolutely not a waste of resources.

    How bad are the institutional business practices of FIFA and its four-term president, Sepp Blatter? Bad enough that prior to last summer's World Cup in Brazil, comedian John Oliver devoted an entire segment of his HBO show "Last Week Tonight" to them, and delivered a funny but nevertheless devastating takedown.

    Good for Loretta Lynch.

    Pay back (none / 0) (#21)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu May 28, 2015 at 03:53:40 PM EST
    FIFA chose Qatar over the U.S. bid championed by none other Eric Holder. Thank God that federal crime is near to nonexistent in this country so that otherwise idle resources can be put to work.

    Depending on how long the case drags on, it may turn out that FIFA's money for the Clinton foundation was well spent.


    seriously? (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by CST on Thu May 28, 2015 at 03:59:12 PM EST
    Of all the conspiracy theory ideas - the one where the U.S. government is upset about a soccer-related decision didn't cross my mind.

    Also, Eric Holder isn't in charge of the justice department anymore, and from my understanding, this case was one that Lynch was working on before she became AG, indicating if anything that it's a pet case of hers.


    I can't wait to see... (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by kdog on Fri May 29, 2015 at 08:09:23 AM EST
    which of the US bankers tied to these alleged crimes get indicted.  lol

    I expect another "no admission of wrong-doing/make check payable to US Treasury" deal for the FIFA official's domestic banking connections.  Prove me wrong Loretta, prove me wrong.    


    As noted above (none / 0) (#26)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Fri May 29, 2015 at 10:49:46 AM EST

    Whatever her motivation it does seem to be an odd priority for the use of DOJ resources.

    Yes, if anything the AG (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by jondee on Fri May 29, 2015 at 04:38:44 PM EST
    should be investigating Eric Holder's connections to the New Black Panthers and the Big Government plot to disarm law abiding citizens.

    That's just nonsense. (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sat May 30, 2015 at 12:49:00 AM EST
    Does He Have A Point? (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by RickyJim on Fri May 29, 2015 at 10:03:50 AM EST
    Comment by Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich on the arrest of FIFA officials


    The arrest of Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) officials in Switzerland under a US request on charges filed by a US court raises a number of questions for Russia. A group of people from different countries is being accused of about fifty instances of financial malfeasance.

    Without going into detail regarding the accusations, we would like to point out that this is clearly yet another example of arbitrary exterritorial enforcement of US law. We hope that this will not be used to cast a shadow on the international football association in general, as well as its decisions, including appointments.

    Time and again, we call on Washington to cease its attempts to initiate court proceedings far beyond its borders with its own legal standards, and to follow universally accepted international legal procedures.


    Doesn't sound very different from (none / 0) (#1)
    by leap on Wed May 27, 2015 at 08:22:52 AM EST
    running for political office in the USofA.

    ...executives from the United States and South America who are accused of paying more than $150 million in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for media deals

    You really think the USA (none / 0) (#3)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Wed May 27, 2015 at 09:19:43 AM EST
    should have no role whatsoever in a multi-million dollar bribery scandal, one perhaps involving American citizens breaking the law in this side of the Atlantic?

    Wouldn't the bribery and corruption... (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by kdog on Wed May 27, 2015 at 10:39:01 AM EST
    have to be surprising to be considered a "scandal"?  

    I mean this FIFA were talking about...nobody gets a World Cup without a whole lotta grease.


    My point isn't what you call it (none / 0) (#8)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Wed May 27, 2015 at 11:29:10 AM EST
    but that if there were crimes were committed by American citizens here or abroad, and if they can be legally prosecuted for their role in the scandal, or whatever you call it, well then, as the Romans used to say, Let justice be done,  even if the ceiling falls.

    I hear ya... (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by kdog on Wed May 27, 2015 at 11:37:57 AM EST
    personally, I rather Lynch devote more of her time to the Wall St. mafia, and the police state mafia...not the soccer mafia.  

    FIFA is low-hanging fruit...it's almost too easy.


    "Pay no attention to that machine behind (none / 0) (#10)
    by Mr Natural on Wed May 27, 2015 at 11:56:01 AM EST
    the curtain.  Look at this pretty indictment instead.  Ooooooh.  Evul foreigners.  Aren't they sparkly?"

    Yep (none / 0) (#15)
    by Dadler on Thu May 28, 2015 at 09:27:14 AM EST
    This is such a glaring example of the complete incompetence and corruption of the American government. We can go after a bunch of soccer cronies, but the sociopaths who ruin MILLIONS of lives? Off, scott free. And where is our worthless President talking about the absurdity of it, facing the ugly reality of our national dysfunction? Probably lunching on Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon's tube steak lunch special.

    I wonder... (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by kdog on Thu May 28, 2015 at 10:01:48 AM EST
    why there wasn't a pre-arranged 'pay chump change fine and admit no wrong-doing' deal like the banksters get?  aka the "wet the DOJ's beak" special.

    It's like tobacco (none / 0) (#17)
    by Dadler on Thu May 28, 2015 at 10:04:51 AM EST
    The government figures tobacco is safe to comprehensively demonize, cuz smokers and farmers of it are SO behind the times of "health." Meanwhile, bigtime emissions, carbon burners, oil companies, polluters of the planet, get off. Effective distraction. In a flip of the emperor's lament, the government offers us bread and circuses just enough to keep us from realizing we're slowly being duped to death.

    Good analogy... (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by kdog on Thu May 28, 2015 at 10:14:43 AM EST
    Soccer is the tobacco of the US sports scene...easy to demonize.

    Meanwhile, the US Military is funneling taxpayer money to the NFL.  That's somehow kosher.


    Saw that yesterday (none / 0) (#19)
    by Dadler on Thu May 28, 2015 at 10:31:45 AM EST
    Good to know it costs the Jets 400K to have a few soldiers stand up and wave.

    You can't get more blatant with the graft than that. Hey, wave for me, now go put this half a mil in my account. Sucker.


    I share J's concern (none / 0) (#12)
    by Peter G on Wed May 27, 2015 at 04:13:21 PM EST
    about using the U.S. federal "money laundering" laws (because U.S. banks were allegedly used to transmit funds) where the accused are non-U.S. persons and the underlying activity occurred outside the U.S. or involved mainly the corruption of foreign governments over foreign sports activities. To the extent the accused are U.S. persons (citizens, plus non-citizens who live here), or they acted inside the U.S., then I agree with Mordiggian that it sounds like a potentially appropriate use of federal prosecutorial resources.

    One of the officials indicted is ... (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed May 27, 2015 at 11:05:10 PM EST
    ... former FIFA vice president Jack Warner, who was arrested in Trinidad this morning, and like the others is awaiting extradition proceedings. So yes, there are several Americans who are involved in this, apparently up to their eyeballs.

    They also raided (none / 0) (#6)
    by CoralGables on Wed May 27, 2015 at 11:01:43 AM EST
    the CONCACAF North American headquarters on Miami Beach this morning.


    Saw that CG... (none / 0) (#11)
    by fishcamp on Wed May 27, 2015 at 03:59:46 PM EST
    you be careful up there.

    I'm safe fish (none / 0) (#13)
    by CoralGables on Wed May 27, 2015 at 09:46:37 PM EST
    No one is paying me to run. Although I'd like it if someone would pay me in Lazy Days fish sandwiches to run.

    Jeralyn, considering.... (none / 0) (#23)
    by magster on Thu May 28, 2015 at 10:09:29 PM EST
    that the Qatar World Cup award is being met with horrible worker's rights abuses to the labor constructing stadiums, I'm happy the US is jumping in where other didn't. It's gross and disgusting and that a summer event is being hosted in a country where the average temp exceeds 100 degrees farenheight and is being supported by exploited abused labor, FIFA SUCKS!

    Here's a John Oliver segment that may be his best yet since moving to HBO.

    They Are Not Related... (none / 0) (#27)
    by ScottW714 on Fri May 29, 2015 at 04:37:23 PM EST
    ...Qatar would still have those abuses, maybe not building stadiums, but they would still exist.

    I don't like sports corruption, but basically putting human rights issues on the FIFA is misplaced IMO.

    Would corruption be OK if Canada paid them off, of course not. Nor would FIFA get credit for giving it to a nation with above average working conditions.  Is Qatars treatment of people any less dispictable had they won the bid without payoffs ?

    It's just odd that people are tying human rights violations to FIFA to amplify the severity of corruption when it's really bad all by itself.


    I tend to agree... (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by kdog on Fri May 29, 2015 at 06:32:40 PM EST
    the immigrant oil and gas workers get treated just as horribly...and that's permanent work.

    Well, if FIFA had said... (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by magster on Fri May 29, 2015 at 08:36:23 PM EST
    "no, you don't get the world cup because of your human rights record" then Qatar might be motivated to reform. Instead FIFA said "throw us a little more cash, and we'll give it to you" with no concern about Qatar. They are related.