Despite the shocking developments overnight, Russia and Qatar are keeping the World Cups for 2018 and 2022, respectively, according to FIFA’s spokesman.
The world woke up to stunning news that nine FIFA officials and five others were arrested on corruption charges and will be extradited to the U.S. FIFA is the governing body for international soccer and has been suspected of wrongdoing for several years.
According to a report in the New York Times — which broke the news — Swiss authorities conducted a surprise early morning raid on a luxury hotel and arrested the suspects, which will be extradited to the U.S. to face corruption charges, following an FBI investigation that lasted three years.
“As leaders of FIFA — soccer’s global governing body — gathered for their annual meeting, more than a dozen plainclothes Swiss law enforcement officials arrived unannounced at the Baur au Lac hotel, an elegant five-star property with views of the Alps and Lake Zurich. They went to the front desk to get room numbers and then proceeded upstairs.”
“The arrests were carried out peacefully. One FIFA official, Eduardo Li of Costa Rica, was led by the authorities from his room to a side-door exit of the hotel. He was allowed to bring his luggage, which was adorned with FIFA logos.”
According to the United States Justice Department indictment document released Wednesday morning, the soccer officials charged are Mr. Li, Jeffrey Webb, Eugenio Figueredo, Jack Warner, Julio Rocha, Costas Takkas, Rafael Esquivel, José Maria Marin, and Nicolás Leoz. However, FIFA President Sepp Blatter is not among those listed, to the surprise of many.
Russia and Qatar were awarded the FIFA World Cup despite concerns regarding both countries. The international body says the the 2018 and 2022 World Cups will be played as intended.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the Qatar World Cup in 2022 was facing mounting criticism, firstly because of the dangerous conditions migrant workers involved in the construction of venues face and secondly, because the matches will be played at the height of summer, which in some instances reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This forced FIFA to move the tournament to the winter months for the first time in its history, a move that was heavily criticized.
As with the Sochi Olympic Games in 2014, when FIFA announced that Russia was awarded the 2018 World Cup there was strong opposition, not only because of Putin’s invasion of Crimea and the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, but due racism in soccer and discrimination against the LGBT population. Blatter only said that the tournament was awarded to Russia and the work to prepare for it will go on.
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[Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images]