EARLY THIS MORNING in Zurich (or late last night for those of us stateside), Swiss plainclothes police entered the Baur au Lac; the five-star hotel was the site of this week’s annual meeting of FIFA, soccer’s global governing body. The officers ascertained room numbers from the front desk, headed upstairs, and arrested six FIFA executives.
Hours later, across the Atlantic in New York City, the Justice Department unsealed a 47-count indictmentagainst 14 defendants—including FIFA bigwigs, sports marketing executives, and the owner of a broadcasting corporation—with charges of racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering. But there’s a lot of background here, so let’s get into it.
What exactly did these people do?
The Justice Department’s announcement primarily cites deals between FIFA, sports marketing groups, and broadcast corporations for the television rights to air the World Cup and other international soccer tournaments. Dating back to 1991, the indictment alleges, those involved conspired to receive bribes from marketing firms in exchange for exclusive television contracts—to the cumulative tune of more than $150 million. As Attorney General Loretta Lynch stated, “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.”
The original article can be found at www.wired.com