ZURICH (AP) — 1:15 p.m. (1115 GMT, 7:15 a.m. EDT)
FIFA spokesman Walter de Gregorio says FIFA President Sepp Blatter “is calm” after the arrests of seven soccer officials in Zurich by Swiss authorities.
U.S. officials issued a warrant for the arrests of nine FIFA officials and Swiss authorities arrested seven of them early Wednesday in Zurich, where hundreds of soccer officials have gathered for the world soccer body’s annual Congress. Blatter was not arrested and is running for a fifth term as president on Friday.
De Gregorio told a hastily called news conference that Blatter “is very calm, he sees what is happening, he is fully cooperating.”
The spokesman says “the stress factor is a little bit higher than it was yesterday … but he (Blatter) knows he was not involved.”
De Gregorio added that Blatter “is not dancing in his office.” He said FIFA’s presidential election — which Blatter is expected to win — will take place as scheduled.
12:55 p.m. (1055 GMT, 6:55 a.m. EDT)
U.S. authorities say two current FIFA vice presidents are among the seven soccer officials arrested and detained in Zurich by Swiss police at the request of U.S. authorities.
The U.S. Department of Justice says FIFA vice presidents Jeffrey Webb from the Cayman Islands and Eugenio Figueredo of Uruguay were arrested early Wednesday at the lakeside Baur au Lac Hotel in Zurich.
The others arrested included Eduardo Li of Costa Rica, Julio Rocha of Nicaragua, Costas Takkas of Britain, Rafael Esquivel of Venezuela and Jose Maria Marin of Brazil. All seven are connected with the regional soccer confederations of North and South America.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said in a statement Wednesday that “the indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States.”
She says the corruption “spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.”
12:35 p.m. (1035 GMT, 6:35 a.m. EDT)
FIFA spokesman Walter de Gregorio says it’s no surprise that Swiss authorities have made arrests in relation to a corruption probe involving the world soccer body. He says it’s only a surprise that the arrests came Wednesday.
De Gregorio says FIFA itself turned over to Swiss judicial authorities last November the report by investigator Michael Garcia into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar. So he said the arrests were “the consequences of what we initiated.”
Six soccer officials were arrested early Wednesday in Zurich by Swiss authorities relating to a U.S. corruption probe. Hours later, Swiss federal prosecutors announced they have opened separate criminal proceedings related to the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Dozens of soccer officials are in Switzerland this week for the FIFA congress and presidential election, where FIFA President Sepp Blatter is widely expected to win re-election. Blatter was not among those arrested.
12:05 p.m. (1005 GMT, 6:05 a.m. EDT)
FIFA spokesman Walter de Gregorio told reporters at a news conference that “FIFA is the damaged party” after two major legal developments erupted early Wednesday in Zurich, home to FIFA, the world soccer body.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter was not among those arrested and is running for a re-election this week.
De Gregorio says “it is once again FIFA suffering under the circumstances.” He insisted that the FIFA Congress, which gathers soccer officials from all over the world, will go ahead as planned.
11:41 a.m. (0941 GMT, 5:41 a.m. EDT)
The Swiss Federal Office of Justice said in a statement the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York is investigating the individuals on suspicion of the acceptance of bribes and kick-backs between the early 1990s and now.
“The bribery suspects — representatives of sports media and sports promotion firms — are alleged to have been involved in schemes to make payments to the soccer functionaries (FIFA delegates) and other functionaries of FIFA sub-organizations — totaling more than USD 100 million,” the FOJ statement said. “In return, it is believed that they received media, marketing, and sponsorship rights in connection with soccer tournaments in Latin America.”
11:31 a.m. (0931 GMT, 5:31 a.m. EDT)
FIFA spokesman Walter de Gregorio told a hastily convened news conference in Zurich that FIFA’s presidential election will take place as planned on Friday. Sepp Blatter is running for a fifth term. De Gregorio also ruled out any revote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups won by Russia and Qatar.
11:30 a.m. (0930 GMT, 5:30 a.m. EDT)
Swiss federal prosecutors have opened criminal proceedings related to the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, throwing FIFA deeper into crisis only hours after six soccer officials were arrested in a separate U.S. corruption probe.
The Swiss prosecutors’ office said in a statement they seized “electronic data and documents” at FIFA’s headquarters on Wednesday as part of their probe. And Swiss police said they will question 10 FIFA executive committee members who took part in the World Cup votes in December 2010.
The Swiss investigation against “persons unknown on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and of money laundering” again throws into the doubt the integrity of the voting to award Russia the 2018 World Cup and the 2022 tournament to Qatar.
The announcement came only hours after six soccer officials were arrested and detained by Swiss police pending extradition at the request of U.S. authorities after a raid at a luxury hotel in Zurich. FIFA President Sepp Blatter was not among them.