• Six officials arrested in Zurich
  • Fifa president Sepp Blatter is not thought to be among the arrested officials
  • The arrests are the result of a joint investigation by the FBI and US tax authorities

Police have arrested six high-ranking Fifa officials in an early-morning operation in Zurich, Switzerland, over corruption charges.

The charges allege widespread corruption within football’s global governing body over the past two decades, involving bids for World Cups, as well as marketing and broadcast deals, according to the New York Times, which cited three anonymous law enforcement officials with direct knowledge of the case. 

The arrests are the result of a joint investigation by the FBI and US tax authorities that has been ongoing since at least 2011, according to the New York Daily News website.

Officers also raided Fifa’s headquarters in Zurich, where they seized electronic data.

Criminal proceedings have been opened “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”, according to a statement from the Swiss Attorney General.

It is expected the officials will be extradited to the US on federal corruption charges.

The officials had gathered in Zurich for Fifa’s annual meeting, due to take place on 28-29 May. It is not thought that Fifa’s president, Sepp Blatter, was among those taken into custody.

Fifa’s ethics committee closed its investigation into the bidding process for the 2022 World Cup in November last year.

It concluded that any breaches of the process, which named Qatar as the host of the 2022 tournament, were only of “very limited scope”.

Since being named as the host of the 2022 tournament, Qatar has been closely scrutinised for corruption and the mistreatment of workers on World Cup projects.

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