On the same day that an FBI lead investigation saw Swiss police carry out dramatic early morning raids and arrest seven FIFA officials in Zurich, Switzerland for alleged charges of bribery and corruption, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice announced it has opened criminal proceedings in connection with the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 football World Cups.
[ RELATED: Nine FIFA officials indicted by FBI ]
Wednesday, May 27, 2015 may be a day to mark down in your calendar as the day that world soccer’s governing body changed forever.
Swiss authorities were clear to point out that their investigation into the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups was separate to the FBI’s investigation into alleged bribery and corruption of certain FIFA officials.
Despite FIFA’s Director of Communications & Public Affairs Walter de Gregorio claiming on Wednesday that the “2018 and 2022 World Cups in Russia and Qatar will go ahead” in a hastily arranged press conference, the Swiss authorities will be “questioning 10 persons who took part in voting on the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups as members of the Executive Committee in 2010” and also had the following to say in a statement.
“The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) has opened criminal proceedings against persons unknown on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and of money laundering in connection with the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 Football World Cups. In the course of said proceedings, electronic data and documents were seized today at FIFA’s head office in Zurich.”
The Swiss Federal Office of Justice then went on to say that they “suspected that irregularities occurred in the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups” and that these irregularities related to suspected “criminal mismanagement” and “money laundering through Swiss bank account.”
All of this adds up to a monumental headache for FIFA President Sepp Blatter, as the 79-year-old who has been in charge of world soccer’s governing body since 1998, is expected to take charge for a fifth-term on Friday when a FIFA congress and presidential vote takes place.
As this dramatic story unfolds in Switzerland, ProSoccerTalk will keep you updated throughout the day.