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Fifa corruption arrests spark concern among sponsors

8Key sponsors of Fifa have expressed “serious concern” after the US accused senior officials of football’s governing body of racketeering, fraud and money laundering.
Coca-Cola said the World Cup had been “tarnished” by “lengthy controversy”.
Seven top officials were arrested in Zurich on Wednesday, among a group of 14 people indicted.
The European body, Uefa, is to meet later to decide whether to boycott Friday’s vote for the presidency.
Fifa on Wednesday announced a provisional ban from football-related activity on 11 of the people involved in the US prosecution.
But it said Friday’s vote – in which Fifa president Sepp Blatter is seeking a fifth term – would go ahead.
Mr Blatter, who has not been named in the investigations, issued a statement on the US case, saying: “Such misconduct has no place in football and we will ensure that those who engage in it are put out of the game.”
Swiss prosecutors have also opened a separate investigation into the bidding process for the World Cup tournaments in 2018 in Russia and 2022 in Qatar.
Key questions answered
Who are indicted officials?
‘Highest standards’
Fifa’s key sponsors, including Adidas, Coca-Cola, Visa, Sony, Gazprom and Hyundai/KIA have faced increasing calls to put pressure on Fifa as corruption allegations have mounted.
Reacting to Wednesday’s events, Coca-Cola said: “This lengthy controversy has tarnished the mission and ideals of the Fifa World Cup and we have repeatedly expressed our concerns about these serious allegations.”
Adidas said it was “fully committed to creating a culture that promotes the highest standards of ethics and compliance, and we expect the same from our partners”.
Budweiser issued a similar statement.
McDonald’s, a second-tier sponsor, said the latest developments were “extremely concerning” and that it was in contact with Fifa and was closely monitoring the situation.
Cobus de Swardt, managing director of campaigning group Transparency International, told Associated Press: “If you are putting many, many millions of euros into a business, then you definitely have a right and responsibility to demand that you are not tainted.”
Fifa’s main sponsors are afforded exposure in stadiums and have the right to use Fifa trademarks in advertising.
Mr Blatter also received a stinging rebuke from Uefa.
The European football governing body said the events were “a disaster for Fifa and tarnish the image of football as a whole”.
It said corruption was deeply rooted in Fifa’s culture.
The USA may be a footballing minnow but today it has shown the importance of fair play with the breathtaking news conference given by the attorney general, the head of the FBI and the head of the IRS.
The scale of what they allege is eye popping – the kickbacks, the fraud, the money laundering, the extortion, the corruption, the bribes.
Al Capone is made to look like a kindergarten novice compared to this lot, if the allegations turn out to be true. The IRS boss said “this is the World Cup of fraud and today we are giving Fifa a red card”.
Uefa’s statement said Friday’s congress risked becoming a “farce” and that the vote should be postponed.
“Therefore the European associations will have to consider carefully if they should even attend this congress and caution a system, which, if it is not stopped, will ultimately kill football.” Uefa will meet on Thursday.
‘Year after year’
Those indicted in the US case are accused of accepting bribes and kickbacks estimated at more than $150m (£97m) over a 24-year period beginning in 1991.
Spelling out details of the US case, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said some Fifa executives had “used their positions to solicit bribes. They did this over and over, year after year, tournament after tournament”.
FBI director James Comey said: “The defendants fostered a culture of corruption and greed that created an uneven playing field for the biggest sport in the world.”
The seven arrested in Zurich were vice-presidents Jeffrey Webb and Eugenio Figueredo; Eduardo Li, Julio Rocha, Costas Takkas, Rafael Esquivel and Jose Maria Marin. They face extradition requests from the US.
The seven were subject to the new Fifa ban, along with Jack Warner, Nicolas Leoz, Chuck Blazer and Daryll Warner.
Jack Warner, a former Fifa vice-president, is accused of soliciting $10m in bribes from South Africa’s government over the hosting of the 2010 World Cup.
A warrant was issued for his arrest in his home nation of Trinidad and Tobago and he turned himself in to police.
He is expected to be bailed after spending the night in prison and will appear in court for a US extradition hearing on 12 July.
He earlier issued a statement saying he was innocent of any charges.
Mr Leoz, 86, is in hospital suffering from flu, his lawyer Fernando Barriocanal said, adding that the Paraguayan was surprised by the charges and ready to defend himself.
Ms Lynch said the charges included:
receiving bribes to award media and marketing rights to football tournaments
receiving bribes to influence the decision of where tournaments should be hosted – including the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and the 2016 Copa America in the US
racketeering – organised illegal activity
money laundering
wire fraud – or obtaining money by fraudulent means
In the second case, Swiss prosecutors opened criminal proceedings “against persons unknown on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and of money laundering in connection with the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 football World Cups”.
Swiss police said they would question 10 Fifa executive committee members who participated in the votes that selected Russia and Qatar in December 2010.