Fifa corruption arrests: How the FA, Fifa, Uefa, Arsene Wenger and the football world reacted to US and Swiss investigations

 
Joe Hall
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Greg Dyke reiterated his support for Prince Ali in Friday's Fifa presidential election (Source: Getty)

The football world was brought to a standstill today after top Fifa officials were arrested by police on corruption charges in an early morning Zurich raid and others were called for questioning over the World Cup bidding process.

A US Department of Justice suit indicted 14 people - including Fifa officials - on charges of corruption and racketeering, while in a separate investigation Swiss authorities called in 10 Fifa officials for questioning over the decision to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.

Here's how those involved and the wider football world reacted to the surprise developments:

US attorney general Loretta Lynch was scathing when explaining the arrests:

The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States. 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.

FBI director James Comey was no less damning:

Undisclosed and illegal payments, kickbacks, and bribes became a way of doing business at FIFA. I want to commend the investigators and prosecutors around the world who have pursued this case so diligently, for so many years.

Fifa claimed to be "pleased" with the arrests that will surely assist its own valiant quest to rid corruption from the game:


Fifa director of communications Walter de Gregorio takes questions from journalists (Source: Getty)

Fifa welcomes actions that can help contribute to rooting out any wrongdoing in football...

... Fifa is fully cooperating with the investigation and is supporting the collection of evidence in this regard. As noted by the Swiss authorities, this collection of evidence is being carried out on a cooperative basis.

We are pleased to see that the investigation is being energetically pursued for the good of football and believe that it will help to reinforce measures that Fifa has already taken.

The under-fire football governing body complained of a "difficult moment" ahead of its presidential election on Friday:

It is once again unfortunately Fifa suffering under these circumstances, it is certainly a difficult moment for us.

His [Blatter's] stress levels are a little higher than they were yesterday...The president is not involved. He is the president and in two days there is an election. And if the 209 member associations elect him then he will president for the next four years.

Greg Dyke, head of the UK's Football Association, reiterated his support for Blatter challenger Prince Ali if the election goes ahead:

We should stress this morning's developments are very serious for Fifa and its current leadership. As one of the associations who nominated Prince Ali it will not surprise you to learn that if the election for the President goes ahead the FA will be voting for him. However, there must be a question mark over whether the election should take place in these circumstances.

Clearly things are changing very quickly and our delegation to the Fifa congress in Zurich, which I am leading, will discuss the position and what we should do about it with our colleagues in Uefa when we meet tomorrow morning.

Read more: Fifa - "No revote on Qatar World Cup 2022 or Russia World Cup 2018"

Prince Ali himself is "sad":

Today is a sad day for football... It would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.

Uefa, European football's governing body, used the opportunity to further distance itself from Fifa:

Uefa is astonished and saddened by the events which have taken place earlier today in Zurich and is now waiting for additional information. An informal meeting of the Uefa Executive Committee will take place this afternoon in Warsaw prior to the Uefa Europa League final.

Ireland's FA chief John Delaney tore into Fifa on RTE Radio One:

It seems like something out of a mafia movie. Nothing would surprise me with Fifa, that's the sad thing. When you wake up this morning and hear those events, it's shocking and very saddening.

There is always controversy around Fifa and it's governance and the one person who has always been at the head of that is Sepp Blatter and he has to take some responsibility for that and that's why I said yesterday that we wouldn't be voting for him.

Read more: Police question Fifa officials on Qatar 2022 and Russia 2018 World Cup voting

Players, commentators and fans naturally took to Twitter to lambast and lampoon football's frustrating ruling body:

Even Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger waded in:

You want justice. If people are guilty of course you want action to be taken.

Jack Warner, former vice president of Fifa was the first defendant in the DOJ lawsuit to protest his innocence:


Warner resigned from Fifa in 2011 after being the subject of bribery investigations. At the time, Fifa said the "presumption of innocence is maintained" (Source: Getty)

My name is being reported by international media as being one of those persons sought in connection with the probe.

I have fought fearlessly against all forms of injustice and corruption. I have been afforded no due process and I have not even been questioned in this matter...

... The actions of FIFA no longer concern me.

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