Swiss federal prosecutors opened criminal proceedings related to the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups Wednesday, throwing FIFA deeper into crisis only hours after seven soccer officials were arrested and 14 indicted in a separate U.S. corruption probe.
The officials were arrested and detained by Swiss police pending extradition at the request of U.S. authorities after a raid at a luxury hotel in Zurich.
The U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement that two current FIFA vice presidents were among those arrested: Jeffrey Webb of the Cayman Islands and Eugenio Figueredo of Uruguay. The others are Eduardo Li of Costa Rica, Julio Rocha of Nicaragua, Costas Takkas of Britain, Rafael Esquivel of Venezuela and Jose Maria Marin of Brazil.
All seven are connected with the regional confederations of North and South America and face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of racketeering.
"The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States," U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement. "It spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks."
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