Vitaly Mutko spoke Wednesday saying. ‘”We’ve got nothing to hide.” (Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)
Adding to the current chaos surrounding FIFA, President Vladimir Putin defended the organization on Thursday, saying the arrests made Wednesday were “another blatant attempt by the United States to extend its jurisdiction to other states.”
Swiss prosecutors had announced a criminal investigation into Russia being awarded the 2018 World Cup and Qatar receiving 2022’s.
“We’ve got nothing to hide,” Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told The Associated Press. “We’re prepared to show everything. We’ve always acted within the law.”
The Swiss prosecutors invaded FIFA headquarters and seized computers along with records to further look into whether those decisions were rigged.
The U.S. is conducting a separate investigation, but authorities on both the Swiss and U.S. side were working together.
Though corruption rumors have swirled around the organization during Sepp Blatter’s 17 years as president, he was not cited in the investigations.
“We welcome the actions and the investigations by the U.S. and Swiss authorities and believe that it will help to reinforce measures that FIFA has already taken to root out any wrongdoing in football,” Blatter said in a statement.
Diego Maradona told Radio La Red, a Buenos Aires radio station, that he was “treated like a crazy person” when he complained of the corruption in FIFA.
“Now the FBI has told the truth,” he said.
In addition, former Brazilian soccer star Romario said to the AP, “someone had to eventually arrest them one day.”
Acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York Kelly T. Currie told the AP that the 161-page, 47-count indictment, which included wire fraud, money laundering and racketeering conspiracy, described decades of “brazen corruption.”
“The ultimate victim is soccer at large: it’s the fans, it’s the organization,” Currie said. “The reason that these people were able to make so much money corruptly is just the love people have for the sport.”
A total of 14 defendants were named in the indictment, including two current FIFA vice presidents in Jeffrey Webb of the Cayman Islands, Eugenio Figueredo of Uruguay and seven officials in total. Of the others indicted, four are sports marketing executives and one works in broadcasting. Another is Jack Warner, a former FIFA vice president from Trinidad and Tobago who turned himself in after police issued an arrest warrant.
Media rights made up a large part of the bribes detailed in the indictment. One in particular, prosecutors said, was when CONMEBOL, South American soccer’s governing body, finalized agreements for Copa America deals worth $352.5 million, the company it made the deal with, Datisa, promised to extend $110 million in bribes to South American soccer officials.
Friday marks FIFA’s election for president and Blatter’s only opposition, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, issued a statement regarding the investigations.
“We cannot continue with the crisis in FIFA, a crisis that has been ongoing and is not just relevant to the events of today,” he said. “FIFA needs leadership that governs, guides and protects our national associations. … Leadership that restores confidence in the hundreds of millions of football fans around the world.”