By Ryan Mayer, CBS Local Sports
Waking up this morning to the news of Swiss authorities arresting FIFA officials on charges of racketeering, money laundering, and fraud, one could be forgiven for feeling a sense of deja vu. Didn’t this just happen? Am I dreaming about the previous arrests again? Well, no, you’re not. Authorities did in fact go to the same Switzerland hotel, the Baur au Lac, to take top officials from soccer’s governing body into custody.
The difference this time? Well, not much. Instead of 10 officials being arrested, there are now expected to be a dozen who are being charged according to the New York Times. The Times reports that two of the officials arrested this time were once again part of the CONCACAF/CONMEBOL federations. Honduran Alfredo Hawit and Paraguayan Juan Angel Napout are among those going to be charged in the newest raids. Hawit is the current CONCACAF president; he took the position following the arrest of the previous president Jeffrey Webb. Meanwhile, Napout is the president of CONMEBOL, the South American soccer federation.
More information on the current set of arrests will emerge over the next couple of days. But, for now, let’s take a look at where the story currently stands, running through the timeline of the major events in this scandal.
May 27th- Swiss Authorities acting in conjunction with US Justice Department arrest 10 high level FIFA executives on charges of wire fraud, racketeering, and money laundering. President Sepp Blatter remains unscathed.
May 29th- Sepp Blatter is re-elected as president of FIFA
June 1st- The US alleges that FIFA’s Jerome Valcke paid $10 million in bribes for South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup.
June 2nd- Sepp Blatter resigns as president of FIFA, but not effective until February 2016 when new elections will be held.
June 20th- British comedian “makes it rain” on Sepp Blatter at FIFA press conference.
September 25th- Swiss prosecutors open criminal investigation into Sepp Blatter.
October 7th- FIFA’s ethics committee suspends Blatter for 90 days.
Dec 2nd- According to ESPN FC, Swiss officials say it will be at least five years before cases are brought to court against Blatter.
Combine all of that with today’s news and there are going to be a lot of court cases involving FIFA over the next 5-10 years. The organization still plans to hold its next presidential election in February, and five candidates have announced their bid: HRH Prince Ali Al Hussein, Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, Jerome Champagne, Gianni Infantino, and Tokyo Sexwale. Each one comes with their plan for how to clean up an organization that has operated in the gray area of the law (to say the least) for the past several decades.
What do today’s arrests mean? Well, simplistically, the arrests today show that the Swiss and US authorities continue to take their investigations very seriously. There won’t be a quick, expedient end to these cases or the attempt to clean up soccer’s governing body. Get used to hearing a lot about the investigations for the foreseeable future.
Ryan Mayer is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Sports. Ryan lives in NY but comes from Philly and life as a Philly sports fan has made him cynical. Anywhere sports are being discussed, that’s where you’ll find him.