FIFA confirms ‘actions’ taken by US justice department
FIFA said “actions” had been taken by the US justice department Thursday and vowed to continue cooperating with investigators, amid a US report a fresh wave of arrests of football officials was underway in Zurich.
“FIFA became aware of the actions taken today by the US Department of Justice,” it said in a statement sent to AFP.
The statement came after The New York Times reported Swiss authorities had arrested several football officials in dawn operations, some of them at the same luxury hotel in Zurich raided by authorities in May.
The Times, which broke news of the police raids earlier this year, said Swiss police entered the Baur au Lac hotel at around 6:00 am (0500 GMT) on Thursday.
A hotel manager was quoted by the newspaper as saying that visitors in the lobby were told by staff to leave the hotel because of an “extreme situation.”
Journalists rapidly gathered outside the hotel, but there were no signs of authorities there an hour after the raids reportedly began, according to an AFP reporter on the scene.
More than a dozen individuals were expected to face charges, The New York Times reported.
“FIFA will continue to cooperate fully with the US investigation as permitted by Swiss law, as well as with the investigation being led by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General,” FIFA said in its statement, adding that it would not provide further comments.
The Times report said the new arrests targeted officials — including several from South and Central America — suspected of involvement in racketeering, money laundering and fraud.
The arrests came as FIFA’s leaders descended on Zurich to discuss proposals aimed at reforming world football’s governing body as it reels from the worst crisis in its history.
The corruption scandal has seen FIFA president Sepp Blatter suspended and under criminal investigation in Switzerland, while Michel Platini, once seen as his likely successor, is also suspended and facing a life ban from football.
Blatter was not a target in the latest round of arrests, according to the Times report.
The Times cited several law enforcement officials speaking on condition of anonymity as saying that the US Justice Department would unseal indictments in the case on Thursday morning.
The report said the FBI and United States tax agents together with federal prosecutors in New York had been building a case against FIFA for years.