The US attorney general has told reporters in New York that
FIFA officials used their positions of trust to solicit bribes. Loretta Lynch said: “They did this over and over. Year after year. Tournament after tournament.”
“These individuals, through these organisations, engaged in bribery to decide who would televise games, where the games would be held, and who would run the organisation overseeing organised soccer worldwide,” said Lynch.
Speaking at the same news conference, director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) James B. Comey said: “This may be the way things are, but this is not the way things have to be.”
“The game, according to the allegations in this indictment, was hijacked. That field that is so famously flat was made tilted in favour of those looking to gain, at the expense of countries and kids who were enjoying the game of soccer. This hijacking is being met with a very aggressive prosecutorial response in order to change behaviour.
“As the US attorney said, this investigation has been long and painstaking, and it is not over, and the work will continue until all of the corruption is uncovered and a message is sent around the world that this conduct will not be tolerated,” said Comey.
The timing has come at the worst possible moment for FIFA, just before incumbent President Sepp Blatter, who will be 80 next year, faces a challenge to his leader from 39-year-old Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan.
Many leading figures from European football have called for FIFA’s presidential election, set for Friday (May 29), to be postponed over this latest scandal.