The FIFA Presidential elections which were set to take place on Friday will go on as planned despite the arrest of seven officials on suspicion of being involved in corruption.
The world of football Wednesday woke up to the shocking news that seven of the most powerful officials within the International Football Federation, among them FIFA Vice-President Jeffrey Webb, had been rounded up by Swiss Police after the US Department of Justice issued a 47-count indictment charging 14 defendants (including five sports media and promotion executives) with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies in a 24-year scheme.
The seven arrested were Webb, Eduardo Li (Costa Rica), Julio Rocha (Nicaragua), Costas Takkas (Cayman Islands), Eugenio Figueredo (Uruguay), Rafael Esquivel (Venezuela) and Jose Maria Marin (Brazil) face extradition to the United States.
"The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States," U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement, quoting ‘well over $150m in bribes and kickbacks’.
"It spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks," she said.
The Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) said it had blocked accounts at several banks in Switzerland through which bribes are claimed to have flowed as well as the seizure of related bank documents.
There had been fears that the arrests will compromise the elections which will see incumbent, Sepp Blatter, face Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein. However, Fifa Director of Communications Walter De Gregorio confirmed that the elections will go on as planned while also saying that the federation won't reconsider a re-vote for 2018 or 2022 World Cups as earlier feared.
Blatter is odds on favorite to defend the seat as he goes for a fifth term in office.