New FIFA sec gen: “We are here to work” — so long to the now-infamous hotel

Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images

LONDON (AP) The doormen at Zurich’s Baur au Lac hotel can put away their white sheets. There will be no FIFA executives to shield while being dragged out of the hotel into police cars again.

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FIFA is no longer hosting its executives at the waterside super-luxurious, lake-side hotel that became synonymous with the sport’s corruption scandal last year when Swiss police launched dawn raids on previously untouchable leaders.

By moving its ruling-council members from the 172-year-old Baur au Lac to the more modest five-star Park Hyatt in Zurich, FIFA will be saving money during next week’s meetings.

FIFA provided no details of the rooms where council members will be staying, but the cheapest double room for Oct. 13 at the Baur au Lac is 870 Swiss francs ($900) which can be booked at the Hyatt for 527 Swiss francs.

The decision to switch hotels was made by new FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura.

“We’re on business so a good solid business hotel I think is more appropriate,” FIFA Vice President Victor Montagliani, who is also head of the CONCACAF confederation, told The Associated Press. “It’s not just only cost-cutting. As we have done at CONCACAF, it’s about sending a message we are here to work and I think those are some changes that have to happen.”

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Moving hotels ends a troubled association with the Baur au Lac which became world renowned — for the wrong reasons — when several soccer officials were arrested in their bedrooms at dawn on May 27, 2015. Swiss police were executing arrest warrants on behalf of American authorities, who have charged more than 40 people in a soccer corruption investigation.

In video captured by The Associated Press , then-Costa Rican Football Federation president Eduardo Li was seen being escorted into a police car last year as hotel porters held up white sheets, unsuccessfully trying to shield him.

Despite the unwelcome wake-up call, FIFA didn’t abandon the Baur au Lac after the arrests. And police paid another visit to the hotel when FIFA executives were in Zurich last December to execute a second wave of arrests.

When the FIFA Council meets next week, the Baur au Lac will be a lot quieter.