U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Wednesday the alleged corruption inside the governing body of soccer spanned at least two generations and implicated the 2011 re-election of Sepp Blatter as president of FIFA.
Lynch also stated that bribery was at play as part of the selection of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the selection of the United States as host for the 2016 Copa America.
"The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States," the U.S. Attorney General said in a statement.
Seven powerful soccer figures are facing extradition to the U.S. after being arrested in Switzerland. Lynch said that the United States is seeking their extradition so that they may face corruption charges involving hundreds of million in bribes.
U.S. authorities said a total of nine soccer officials and five sports media and promotions executives are part of a 47-count indictment that was unsealed Wednesday. Although authorities also announced a criminal investigation into the awarding of the Qatar and Russia World Cups, although these were not part of the indictment.
FIFA President Blatter was also not named in the indictment.
Of the 14 indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice, seven FIFA officials, including Vice-President Jeffrey Webb, were being held in Zurich. Four people and two corporate defendants had already pleaded guilty to various charges, the department said.
"(The investigation) 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," Lynch said. “They did this over and over, year after year, tournament after tournament.”
Attorney General Lynch said in a press conference that the current president of Concacaf, FIFA's sub-regional group in North America, was among those arrested and that a search warrant of Concacaf's headquarters had also been executed. Also among those arrested as several officials representing the South American soccer federation Conmebol, which is hosting the Copa America tournament in less than a month in Chile.
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