FIFA scandal gets murkier

FIFA spokesman Walter De Gregorio addresses a press conference in Zurich, Switzerland on May 27, 2015
FIFA spokesman Walter De Gregorio addresses a press conference in Zurich, Switzerland on May 27, 2015

FIFA stressed that it is the “injured party” in the criminal proceedings initiated regarding corruption charges and pledged to fully cooperate with the investigation and the collection of evidence in this regard.

FIFA’s director of communications and public affairs Walter De Gregorio said, after seven FIFA officials were arrested here, that FIFA is the “damaged party”, reports Efe.

De Gregorio added that no FIFA documents have been confiscated, and that “FIFA cooperates fully with the attorney general of Switzerland and Federal Office of Justice and it corresponds to all requests for information”.

Officials from the Swiss authorities have collected documents and electronic data at headquarters of FIFA here, and de Gregorio said this procedure was carried out in full cooperation from FIFA staff.

The search for information at the FIFA premises is part of the investigation initiated by the Swiss authorities at the request of FIFA itself in relation to suspicions of criminal mismanagement and money laundering related to the successful bidders chosen to host the FIFA World Cup 2018 and 2022.

However, the arrest of the seven FIFA officials is a separate procedure for corruption initiated by prosecution in New York.

The coincidence between the arrest of officials and the search of documents and electronic data has caused confusion and led many to believe that it was the same case, when in fact they are two, one of them proceeded by the Swiss judiciary and the second initiated in New York City.

“These arrests are not good in terms of image, it’s not good in terms of reputation but in terms of cleaning up this is a good thing,” de Gregorio added, and clarified that the best proof of this is that FIFA itself has asked the public prosecutor of Switzerland to open the investigation regarding choosing Russia and Qatar as hosts of the next two World Cups.

The Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police announced on Wednesday the names of the seven FIFA officials who were arrested earlier on the day, six of whom in a hotel in Zurich, while the seventh somewhere else.

The seven officials were arrested at the request of the US judiciary, and will be kept in detention in Switzerland until a decision is taken regarding their deportation to the US.

The names of the detainees, according to the order announced by the Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police, are:

– Uruguay’s Eugenio Figueredo, current FIFA vice president and executive committee member and former CONMEBOL president and Uruguayan soccer federation (AUF) president.

– Brazil’s Jose Maria Marin, current member of the FIFA organising committee for the Olympic football tournaments.

– Nicaragua’s Julio Rocha, current FIFA development officer, former Central American Football Union (UNCAF) president and Nicaraguan soccer federation (FENIFUT) president.

– Britain’s Costas Takkas, current attaché to the CONCACAF president, former CIFA general secretary.

– Britain’s 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.

– Venezuela’s Rafael Esquivel, current CONMEBOL executive committee member and Venezuelan soccer federation (FVF) president.

– Costa Rica’s Eduardo Li, current FIFA executive committee member-elect, CONCACAF executive committee member and Costa Rican soccer federation (FEDEFUT) president.

The FIFA 65th Congress is scheduled to be held over two days on Thursday and Friday, when a new FIFA president will be elected.

Sepp Blatter, current FIFA president, is running for a fifth term against sole rival Jordan’s Ali Bin Al Hussein, following the withdrawal of the other candidates, former Portuguese footballer Luis Figo, and Michael van Praag, chief of the Royal Dutch Football Association.

De Gregorio noted that the arrests did not come in the most appropriate moment but he clarified that “there was never such an idea to postpone either the congress or the election”.