The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has released its indictment against Fifa officials as part of a corruption probe against football’s governing body.
It named several officials some of whom were arrested this morning in Switzerland where they gathered for FIFA’s congress. Among those named in the indictment is Trinidadian Jack Warner.
Swiss police arrested the powerful World Football officials announcing a criminal investigation into the awarding of the next two world cups and plunging the world’s most popular sport into turmoil.
The arrests by plain-clothes police were made at dawn at a plush Zurich hotel where FIFA officials are staying ahead of a vote this week where they have been expected to easily anoint Blatter for a fifth term in office.
Here’s the list of indicted officials, plus their roles, in full:
• Jeffrey Webb: Current Fifa vice president and executive committee member, Concacaf president, Caribbean Football Union (CFU) executive committee member and Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) president.
• Eduardo Li: Current Fifa executive committee member-elect, Concacaf executive committee member and Costa Rican soccer federation (FEDEFUT) president.
• Julio Rocha: Current Fifa development officer. Former Central American Football Union (UNCAF) president and Nicaraguan soccer federation (FENIFUT) president.
• Costas Takkas: Current attaché to the Concacaf president. Former CIFA general secretary.
• Jack Warner: Former Fifa vice president and executive committee member, Concacaf president, CFU president and Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) special adviser.
• Eugenio Figueredo: Current Fifa vice president and executive committee member. Former CONMEBOL president and Uruguayan soccer federation (AUF) president.
• Rafael Esquivel: Current CONMEBOL executive committee member and Venezuelan soccer federation (FVF) president.
• José Maria Marin: Current member of the Fifa organizing committee for the Olympic football tournaments. Former CBF president.
• Nicolás Leoz: Former Fifa executive committee member and CONMEBOL president.
The US DoJ said four of the defendants were sports marketing executives, and named them as Alejandro Burzaco from Torneos y Competencias SA, Aaron Davidson from Traffic Sports USA, and Hugo and Mariano Jinkis from Full Play Group SA.
It said one of the defendants was in the broadcasting business but allegedly served as an intermediary to facilitate illicit payments between sports marketing executives and soccer officials, naming him as José Margulies.
The 14 officials and executives were charged with a bribery and kickback scheme that spanned over a 24-year period. The Justice Department revealed that four individuals and two companies have already pleaded guilty in the case rocking football’s world governing body.
“It 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,” US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in the Justice Department statement about the charges.
At the same time as the indictments were unsealed, authorities raided the CONCACAF soccer association headquarters in Miami as part of the case. The organization coordinates the sport in North and Central America and the Caribbean.
Warner is one of the most popular Caribbean personalities in addition to being a businessman, former teacher, politician and football guru. The confidant of FIFA President Sepp Blatter was accused of several bribery and fraud. In 2011 he was suspended by FIFA because of alleged involvement in bribes many of which involved Caribbean officials and associations.
The British newspaper The Telegraph additionally reported in 2014 that Warner and his family received millions from a company in Qatar, when that country won the bid to host the 2022 World Cup. When the British wanted to organize the tournament, they had to put millions in a training center in Trinidad. The money would then be funneled to Warner said David Triesman, the former chairman of the British Football Association in 2011.
Warner , The leader of the Independent Liberal Party and former Minister of National Security of Trinidad and Tobago would be further involved in trading in World Cup tickets on the black market in 2002 and 2006. In the latter year, Trinidad and Tobago participated in the World Cup in Germany, led by coach Leo Beenhakker.
Much of the U.S. enquiry was focused on Warner and the CONCACAF region, which governs soccer in the North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
The confederation’s Trinidadian former boss Warner was regularly dogged by accusations of corruption before he resigned in 2011, at which point FIFA terminated its investigations of him.
The U.S. criminal case will allow courts to look into matters that in the past had been investigated mainly by FIFA’s own internal ethics committee, answerable to itself.
U.S. law gives its courts broad powers to investigate crimes committed by foreigners on foreign soil if money passes through U.S. banks or other activity takes place there.
U.S. prosecutors are expected to announce the case at a news conference at the Brooklyn U.S. attorney’s office, which is leading the U.S. investigation.
Damian Collins, a British member of parliament who founded the reform group New FIFA Now, said the arrests and could have a massive impact on the governing body.
“The chickens are finally coming home to roost and this sounds like a hugely significant development for FIFA,” he told Reuters by telephone.
“It proves that Sepp Blatter’s promises over the last few years to look into corruption at FIFA have not materialized and because he has totally failed to do this, it has been left to an outside law enforcement agency to do the job and take action.”