As the Justice Department arrested or indicted 14 FIFA and media officials in dramatic early morning raids, Swiss authorities announced a criminal investigation of their own, into allegations of corruption and bribery related to the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar. FIFA says it will not wait for the results of that investigation: those World Cups are staying where they are.
A statement from the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland makes clear that its own investigation (separate from the FBI’s which concerns more general corruption, particularly in media rights deals) focuses specifically on the controversial World Cup bidding process.
In the Swiss criminal proceedings, opened by the OAG on 10 March 2015, it is suspected that irregularities occurred in the allocation of the FIFA World Cups of 2018 and 2022. The corresponding unjust enrichment is suspected to have taken place at least partly in Switzerland....There are also suspicions of money laundering through Swiss bank accounts (Article 305bis, SCC). Subsequently to today’s seizure of files, the OAG and the Swiss Federal Criminal Police 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. These persons should be questioned as persons providing information.
The arrests caught FIFA by surprise, but they quickly threw together a press conference at their Zurich headquarters this morning in which they declared unequivocally that, “irregularities” or not, the World Cup will not be re-allocated.
FIFA spokesman Walter de Gregorio told reporters at a hastily arranged news conference in Zurich that “Russia and Qatar will be played.”
Somewhat unbelievably, FIFA plans to go ahead with its presidential election this Friday, when Sepp Blatter is expected to win his fifth term.