FIFA executives got a surprise when they gathered at the Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich, Switzerland, a spot informally used as a base of operations for FIFA when it comes time for major meetings, such as Friday's presidential election for football's world governing organization. The surprise came in the form of Swiss law enforcement agents showing up unannounced, arresting FIFA officials and seizing evidence for further processing.
Six officials were arrested in all, including members of FIFA's all-powerful executive committee. The arrests stem from an investigation in the United States, where the Department of Justice has found sufficient reason to hand down indictments and the arrest warrants that the Swiss authorities served.
The investigation, which has been ongoing for several years, has been looking in to allegations of bribery and corruption within FIFA over the last 17 years, including and especially looking in to events surrounding the selection of Russia and Qatar as the next two World Cup hosts. The indictments indicate that the six arrested officials were involved in either receiving or making over $100 million in bribes for various purposes, including potentially garnering voting support.
There were a multitude of questions as to whether the World Cup voting process was entirely on the level, especially for Qatar's selection for the 2022 World Cup, and recently there have been several reports of various officials being approached by third parties regarding votes for the current FIFA presidential election, a process lambasted last week by withdrawn candidate and legendary former player Luis Figo.
Current FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who is expected to retain his position in Friday's election, has not been arrested nor is he currently expected to be. CONCACAF, the federation that oversees the sport in North America, was hard-hit, with CONCACAF president and FIFA vice-president Jeffrey Webb and former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago arrested, along with Costa Rica's FA president, Eduardo Li. Those arrested could face extradition to the US.
UPDATE: The full list of indictments names 14 people, including further football officials and several sports-marketing executives. Most involved appear to be involved with North or South American federations and marketing companies.