Fifa corruption arrests: Three things you need to know

From how the arrests will impact Qatar and Russia's World Cup bids, and Sepp Blatter's bid for re-election as Fifa President, we have it covered

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The Independent Online

Why have these arrests happened now?

Because enough important people were gathered in one place.

There are two separate investigations occurring concurrently into Fifa malpractice. One by Swiss authorities, which concerns corruption in to the 2018 and 2022 bidding process.

One by the United States Department of Justice, which concerns racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud in the award of marketing and broadcast rights.

The two departments co-ordinated this morning’s raid to prevent collusion, and because the people Swiss authorities want to speak to are all in Zurich for Fifa’s Annual Congress.

Will Sepp Blatter still be re-elected as Fifa President on Friday?

In all likelihood, yes. Fifa maintains it is the “injured party” in the Swiss investigation, and it was them who initiated it 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.

President 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 like 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 re-run the process. The Swiss Attorney General’s Office only has access to information provided to it by Fifa.

The Attorney General’s 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.”

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

More to the point, if Fifa were to remove the competition from either country, it would have to run a competition to find a new host, and there would be grave question marks over whether it would be in a fit state to do so.

 

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