Police have arrested two high-ranking FIFA officials on suspicion of ‘having received bribes of millions of dollars’ in a dawn raid on Zurich’s Baur au Lac hotel.
It is the second swoop on the luxury hotel this year and relates to allegations of taking bribes in return for selling marketing rights in connection with football tournaments in Latin America and World Cup qualifying matches.
FIFA vice-presidents Alfredo Hawit of Honduras and Juan Angel Napout of Paraguay are reported to be the two men who were arrested at 6am on Thursday morning on orders issued by the Swiss Federal Office of Justice on behalf of the US Department of Justice.
Hawit and Napout sat on FIFA’s highest decision-making board, the executive committee, on Wednesday but will now be missing from Friday’s meetings when the latest reforms of football’s governing body are expected to be ratified.
Other arrests in connection with the case are expected around the world on Thursday and the US Department of Justice are also expected to indict more officials on bribery and corruption charges.
Law enforcement officials said the list of those arrested does not include suspended pair FIFA president Sepp Blatter and his deputy Jerome Valcke.
The FOJ said in a statement: ‘On the instructions of the Federal Office of Justice FOJ, a further two FIFA officials were arrested in Zurich today, Thursday.
‘They are being held in custody pending their extradition. According to the US arrest requests, they are suspected of accepting bribes of millions of dollars.’
Swiss police are said to have entered the hotel, where rooms start from £435-a-night, through a side door at 6am with officers targeting current and former senior soccer officials.
FIFA issued a statement saying: ‘FIFA became aware of the actions taken today by the US Department of Justice. FIFA will continue to cooperate fully with the US investigation as permitted by Swiss law, as well as with the investigation being led by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General.
‘FIFA will have no further comment on today’s developments.’
FIFA’s executive committee were gathering in Switzerland for two days of talks across Wednesday and Thursday of this week.
Thursday’s arrests were made ahead of a 9am ExCo meeting which is scheduled to approve wide-ranging reforms to help protect against corrupt officials.