U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch was expected to detail an international corruption investigation against global soccer Wednesday in Brooklyn. The case has plunged the world's most powerful soccer figures into turmoil amid growing questions about the awarding of the next two World Cups.
The Department of Justice announced Wednesday that nine soccer officials and five sports media and promotions executives faced corruption charges involving more than $150 million in bribes. The case saw Swiss police arrest seven FIFA officials who are now awaiting extradition to the United States. Meanwhile, Swiss authorities also announced Wednesday an investigation into the activities of the game's powerful ruling body, including Vice-President Jeffrey Webb, who was being held in Zurich.
The U.S. Department of Justice also named in its case: Eduardo Li, Julio Rocha, Costas Takkas, FIFA Vice-President Eugenio Figueredo, Rafael Esquivel and José Maria Marin. Read the press release here. Lynch was expected to discuss the case with reporters Wednesday at 10:30 in the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn. To watch a live stream of the press conference in Brooklyn, click here. A live stream of a FIFA press conference responding to the allegations can be found here.
Federal officials began combing the Miami, Florida, headquarters of CONCACAF, the soccer federation that governs North America, Central America and the Caribbean, on Wednesday. "As charged in the indictment, the defendants fostered a culture of corruption and greed that created an uneven playing field for the biggest sport in the world," said FBI Director James Comey in a statement. "Undisclosed and illegal payments, kickbacks, and bribes became a way of doing business at FIFA."
The soccer leaders are accused of paying "well over $150 million in bribes and kickbacks to obtain lucrative media and marketing rights to international soccer tournaments." "The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States," U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement. "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," she said.