Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Swiss prosecutors confirm about 25 FIFA investigations

Leave a comment

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) About 25 separate investigations of suspected corruption linked to FIFA and World Cup bidding are being led by federal prosecutors in Switzerland, the country’s office for the attorney general said Friday.

The office of Michael Lauber confirmed the scale of “football-related cases” after securing a first conviction since its FIFA probes began in 2014.

Cases were not specified, but criminal proceedings are open against former FIFA officials Sepp Blatter and Jerome Valcke, and some 2006 World Cup organizers, including Franz Beckenbauer.

[ MORE: Leicester nabs Hull’s Maguire ]

Swiss and American prosecutors worked together on a guilty plea made in a Brooklyn federal courthouse on Thursday by Jorge Arzuaga, a former employee of Swiss private banks from Argentina.

Arzuaga admitted to working with former FIFA finance chairman Julio Grondona and others in a money-laundering conspiracy linked to bribes. Grondona was senior vice president at FIFA when he died in 2014.

Arzuaga forfeited $650,000 in “unlawfully obtained” bonuses to the Swiss treasury, the federal prosecution office said.

The banker, who worked in Zurich for Credit Suisse and Julius Baer, is due to be sentenced on Jan. 4.

Lauber was invited by FIFA in November 2014 to begin investigating suspected wrongdoing in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests which were won by Russia and Qatar, respectively.

“To date, 178 reports of suspected money-laundering transactions have been received in connection with the football investigations,” Lauber’s office said.

In May 2015, the scope of Swiss and American cooperation to prosecute corruption linked to FIFA was revealed when seven officials, including two FIFA vice presidents, were arrested in early morning hotel raids in Zurich. FIFA was also raided for evidence that day.

A further round of arrests, indictments and guilty pleas to U.S. courts were revealed in December 2015. More than 40 soccer and marketing officials have been indicted or made guilty pleas in the American case.

In Switzerland, authorities are now analyzing “seized documents containing some 19 terabytes of data,” Lauber’s office said Friday.

VIDEO: Portugal lead Iran at HT; Spain 1-1 Morocco

Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images
1 Comment

We’re through the first 45 minutes of Monday’s Group B finales at the 2018 World Cup, and things are happening. A quick rundown…

[ SCENARIOS: Who needs what, to finish where, in final round of group games ]

Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos combined to commit a disastrous gaffe at midfield, resulting in a goal for Khalid Boutaib in the 14th minute. At this point, Spain would have finished second, behind Portugal, and headed to the far more difficult side of the knockout bracket.

Five minutes later, it was Iniesta who, with a little help from some slightly lesser geniuses, unlocked the Moroccan defense to set up Isco for an emphatic finish. La Furia Roja moved back to the top of the group, on goals scored.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

In the afternoon’s other game, Portugal and Iran appeared destined for a 0-0 scoreline at halftime, until Ricardo Quaresma unleashed a stunning, outside-of-the-foot curler from outside the box to beat the goalkeeper and put Portugal ahead — both on the day, and in the table. As things currently stand, Portugal would win the group and Spain would finish second.

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 4

Leave a comment

In the fourth episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England players have been preparing for their next match in an unusual way, Argentina has a huge meltdown, and more.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

Click play on the video above to watch the fourth episode in full.

Atlanta leads way with six All-Star Fan XI selections

Atlanta United on Twitter/@ATLUTD
Leave a comment

It may be hard to believe with all the World Cup festivities going on, but the Major League Soccer season is nearly halfway over.

[ MORE: Toronto FC’s 2018 has been far from their cup-winning 2017 ]

And that means it’s almost All-Star time.

The MLS All-Stars will continue their recent tradition of facing a European superpower in August, with Juventus being welcomed to the United States in early August.

But, which players from MLS will we see in action?

Last season’s expansion sweetheart Atlanta United leads the way in the fan voting with six players from the Eastern Conference side voted into the Fan XI, including attackers Miguel Almiron, Ezequiel Barco, Darlington Nagbe and Josef Martinez.

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan and defender/captain Michael Parkhurst also made the team from Atlanta.

In all, only five clubs were represented based on the Fan XI, with the LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Los Angeles FC’s Carlos Vela and Laurent Ciman, Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi and Portland Timbers star Diego Valeri each rounding out the squad.


Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United)

Defenders: Michael Parkhurst (Atlanta United), Laurent Ciman (Los Angeles Football Club), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Miguel Almirón (Atlanta United), Ezequiel Barco (Atlanta United), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United), Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers)

Forwards: Josef Martínez (Atlanta United), Zlatan Ibrahimović (LA Galaxy), Carlos Vela (Los Angeles Football Club – EA SPORTS™ “More Than a Vote” Challenge)

Saudi Arabia steals late win over Egypt in Group A finale

Getty Images
1 Comment

Saudi Arabia pulled off a late 2-1 win against Egypt on Monday in their Group A finale, as the two nations ended their 2018 World Cup run in the group stage.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Salem Al Sawsari scored in the fifth minute of second half stoppage time to give the Saudis a late winner in the match, as the attacker struck the post in the dying moments before the ball crossed the line.

The Pharaohs took the lead in the 22nd minute, after a tremendous run from Mohamed Salah and lob over the Saudi Arabia goalkeeper.

Salah has two goals at the World Cup for Egypt, who were already eliminated heading into Monday’s match.

Saudi Arabia was granted a chance to equalize prior to halftime, however, goalkeeper Essam El Hadary brilliantly stopped Hattan Bahebri’s penalty kick in the 41st minute to preserve the Egypt advantage.

El Hadary became the oldest player in World Cup history to appear in a match at the age of 45.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

The Egypt keeper wasn’t as lucky the second time around though, with Salmon Al Faraj converting a penalty kick in the 51st minute.

Saudi Arabia finishes group play in third place on three points, while Egypt goes winless in its three matches.