Fifa officials arrested in Zurich face extradition to US
The seven face corruption charges involving more than $150 million in bribes.
JOHANNESBURG - Seven of the most powerful figures in global soccer face extradition to the United States (US) on corruption charges after being arrested in Switzerland on Wednesday, where authorities also announced a criminal investigation into the awarding of the next two world cups.
The world's most popular sport has been plunged under the microscope after US and Swiss authorities announced separate inquiries into the activities of the game's powerful ruling body.
US authorities have confirmed nine football officials and five sports media and promotions executives are facing corruption charges involving more than $150 million in bribes.
Swiss police arrested seven Fifa officials who are now awaiting extradition to the US.
Those arrested do not include Sepp Blatter, the Swiss head of Fifa, but do include several just below him in the hierarchy of sport's wealthiest body.
The Swiss Federal Office of Justice has now ordered that eight accounts linked to the Fifa probe be blocked at several banks in Switzerland.
It's also ordered the seizure of all related bank documents to investigate claims that bribes flowed through those blocked accounts.
Fifa has described the arrest of six of its leading figures on bribery charges as "a difficult moment", but says Blatter will not step down and the next world cups will go ahead as planned in Russia and Qatar.
Fifa spokesperson Walter de Gregorio says nothing will be affected.
"I can say what I said or what the president said in the past, the World Cup 2018 and 2022 will be played in Russia and in Qatar."
To read the full statement from the Swiss Attorney General on the matter, click here. Factfile on football's governing body, Fifa.
Factfile on football's governing body, Fifa.
Meanwhile, former football executive Jack Warner says he's aware that at least one raid conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigators (FBI) in Miami is being executed at what he presumes to be CONCACAF offices.
In a press statement Warner said, "I have been afforded no due process and I have not even been questioned in this matter. I reiterate that I am innocent of any charges. I have walked away from the politics of world football to immerse myself in the improvement of lives in this country where I shall, God willing, die."
In another statement, Fifa said it is fully cooperating with the investigation and is supporting the collection of evidence.
"We are pleased to see that the investigation is being energetically pursued for the good of football and believe that it will help to reinforce measures that Fifa has already taken."
At the same time, former South African Football Association President Kirsten Nematandani has also welcomed an investigation into alleged corruption by Fifa.
The awarding of the 2010 World Cup to South Africa is also part of the inquiry.
Nematandani has told Eyewitness News he believes Germany's controversial awarding of the 2006 tournament at the expense of South Africa, may have played a role in the granting of the 2010 host rights.
"At that time, yes, there were issues that we felt it wasn't comforting for someone to abstain. We heard of the country going around lobbying with various countries and requesting their support. And by that time we thought logically the Oceania would support us but it did not happen."