NEW YORK (Reuters) – Nine high-ranking soccer officials, including two current vice-presidents of world governing body FIFA, and five sports marketing executives have been indicted on federal corruption charges, U.S. law enforcement officials said on Wednesday.
The 47-count indictment unsealed in a federal court in New York charged the defendants with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies as part of a scheme that spanned more than two decades, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement.
“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 the 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 added.
Seven FIFA officials, including current FIFA vice president and executive committee member Jeffrey Webb, were arrested by Swiss authorities on Wednesday and detained pending extradition to the United States, the department said.
The arrests were made shortly after dawn at a Zurich hotel where officials are staying ahead of this week’s FIFA presidential election.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter was not among those arrested nor was he charged, according to Swiss and U.S. justice officials.
Authorities also began executing a search warrant at the Miami, Florida, headquarters of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) on Wednesday morning, the department said.
Separately to Wednesday’s arrests, four individuals and two corporate defendants have already pleaded guilty to various charges in the case, the department said. Three of the men had entered guilty pleas as early as July 2013, according to the department.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco and Karen Freifeld; Editing by John O’Brien and Alison Williams)