Fifa corruption arrests Q & A: The accusations, who is involved – and what happens next

The football governing body has been hit by its greatest ever crisis

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The Independent Online

With Fifa facing its greatest crisis in history and two separate criminal corruption probes, it can be difficult to keep track of who is accused of what. Here’s the rap sheet in full – as well as what might happen next.

What does the US indictment say?

1 Fifa 2011 presidential election

The former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner allegedly tried to rig the 2011 presidential election by paying delegates to vote for his preferred candidate. Mr Warner is said to have arranged for envelopes containing $40,000 (£26,000) in cash to be given as a “gift” to officials in return for their votes. After hearing that one of them had talked, it is claimed Mr Warner said: “There are some people here who think they are more pious than thou. If you’re pious, open a church. Our business is our business.” Yesterday, he stated he was “innocent of any charges”.

2 The 2010 World Cup

A bribery bidding war broke out in 2004 before the awarding of the 2010 finals to South Africa. Jack Warner, then the president of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football, reportedly travelled to Morocco, which was bidding to be the host nation, where a bid committee offered to pay $1m for his vote. The South African government was also prepared to pay $10m to “support the African diaspora” – a sum which was in fact offered in exchange for the votes of Mr Warner and two others.

3 The sportswear deal

Bribes were paid to secure the sponsorship rights to the Brazilian national team for US sportswear company Nike after the 1994 World Cup. It is understood that a middleman was involved rather than the company itself. Nike, sponsor of Brazil since 1996, said it was “concerned by the very serious allegations” and was co-operating with the authorities. The court document says tens of millions of dollars in bribes were also paid to South American Fifa officials to secure media and marketing rights to tournaments. Bribes were also paid to Concacaf officials to secure similar rights to Caribbean football tournaments, it alleges.

Why have these arrests happened now?

Because enough important people were gathered in one place, Zurich, for the Fifa congress and presidential elections. And they wouldn’t be there for long.

Why are there two  separate investigations?

The FBI has been investigating fraud and corruption in Fifa for years, aided by one of its own citizens, Chuck Blazer, a corrupt Fifa executive committee member turned informant. “If you touch our shores with your corrupt enterprise you will be held accountable,” said the FBI’s director, James Comey. The FBI’s investigation and extradition requests concern transactions either with American banks or American companies, and relate almost exclusively to individuals based in the Americas with financial links to the US.

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United States Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, right, federal prosecutor Evan Norris, centre, and a representative from the Internal Revenue Service attend a press conference about the arrests of nine FIFA officials in Brooklyn, New York

Separately, there is a Swiss investigation into corruption in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding processes, won by Russia and Qatar, which began when Fifa itself called in the police in November. Now Swiss investigators have said they have found evidence of money laundering in this process. Although yesterday morning’s dual strike was co-ordinated – it had to be – the investigations are separate.

Read more: The officials and executives facing charges

Will Sepp Blatter still be re-elected as Fifa president tomorrow?

Despite the pressure today from Fifa’s sponsors, the British Government, Uefa and others, in all likelihood yes, Sepp Blatter will be re-elected. Fifa maintains it is the “damaged party” in the Swiss inquiry, and it initiated proceedings by calling in the police in November. The timing is extremely unfortunate, but possible corruption in the World Cup bidding is not directly related to the Fifa president. It has already indicated the vote will go ahead. There is no reason to suspect these developments will persuade the football federations from the smaller nations in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, on whose patronage Sepp Blatter depends, to switch their allegiance.

Mr Blatter’s only opponent is the Jordanian Prince Ali bin al-Hussein. He does not have the stature within the world of football of someone such as Michel Platini. Had the Frenchman known what might happen he might have been persuaded to stand, but it is too late now.

Could Qatar or Russia be stripped of the World Cup?

It’s possible, but unlikely. Fifa’s own investigation into the matter concluded in November that there was not sufficient evidence of corruption to rerun the process. The Swiss attorney general’s office has access only to information provided by Fifa.The office has said it has opened “criminal proceedings against persons unknown on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and of money laundering in connection with the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 football World Cups”.

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Blatter 'hands over' for Russia's 2018 World Cup after the Brazil tournament in 2014

Should any of Fifa’s voters be found guilty of such crimes, Fifa’s statutes provide for the competition to be rerun. But it would be Fifa’s decision to do so, and it has already indicated that any wrongdoing in that bid process did not “affect the integrity or the outcome”  of the bidding.

It seems unlikely that Russia could be stripped of its tournament at this late stage. If Fifa were to remove the competition from either country, it would be declaring itself not fit for purpose. How, then, it could go about holding a fair competition for a new host is very difficult to see.

Will there be more arrests?

US law enforcement agents say their work is not yet done and that their investigations are far from over – Kelly Currie, the US attorney, said Wednesday’s indictment was “the beginning of our work, not the end”.

Meanwhile, no arrests have yet been made by the Swiss authorities investigating the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. They are preparing to question 10 Fifa committee members, but say they could in theory want to speak to anyone involved in the voting for those tournaments – including Mr Blatter himself. It remains unclear whether arrests will follow the Swiss probe.

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