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FIFA case: Is US stepping over the line?

 
 
 
 
 
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Sounding supportive of an international probe into FIFA corruption, Russia accuses the US of applying its laws “beyond its borders.”

Moscow reacted to the detention of a number of FIFA officials over corruption after its reports swept the media earlier on Wednesday.

Alexander Lukashevich, a spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, wrote a commentary on the official website in which he suggested that the US intervention in the matter was way beyond its legal power.

Lukashevich (pictured below) said Washington should “stop attempts to administer justice far beyond its borders under its statutory regulations, and to follow the generally acknowledged international-law procedures.”

“A group of individuals representing various countries are charged with about half a hundred counts of all sorts of financial machination,” he wrote. “Without delving into the detail of the presented charges, we point out that we are seeing yet another case of illegal extra-territorial application of the US laws.”

“We hope this will by no means be used to cast a shadow on the international football organization as a whole and the decisions that it makes, including human-resources ones,” he further said.

Earlier, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch accused the officials of “hijacking” international football to run a World Cup of “fraud”, whose next round is set to be held in Russia in 2018.

Lynch argued that FIFA should consider whether the 2018 World Cup should be held in Russia, also questioning the credibility of the 2022 one in Qatar.

FIFA spokesperson Walter de Gregorio said, however, that the two world cups will go ahead as planned.

The arrest of the FIFA officials over the way Russia and Qatar had been selected as host countries followed a criminal inquiry by the Swiss Justice Ministry.

Money laundering is among the charges the officials are facing.

Investigate all cups

FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who is expecting to win a fifth four-year term at the helm on Friday, also responded to the arrests.

“This is a difficult time for football, the fans and for FIFA as an organization,” Blatter said in a statement. “We understand the disappointment that many have expressed and I know that the events of today will impact the way in which many people view us.”

“We will continue to work with the relevant authorities and we will work vigorously within FIFA in order to root out any misconduct, to regain your trust and ensure that football worldwide is free from wrongdoing,” Blatter (seen above) said in reaction to the most serious crisis in FIFA’s 111-year history.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff also backed the probe, calling for an investigation into “all cups, (and) all activities” at FIFA.

“I think all inquiries into this issue are very important. I think this can only benefit Brazil,” she said during her official visit to Mexico.

More FIFA officials, more states engaged

Lynch announced the charges at a press conference in New York, where senior officials from the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) criminal investigations unit were also present.

“This is really the World Cup of fraud and today we are issuing FIFA a red card,” said Richard Weber, the chief investigator of the IRS criminal investigations unit.

According to Kelly Curries, the acting US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, this was just the “beginning of our effort, not the end”.

“We are looking into individuals and entities in a variety of countries,” Curries said.

She was referring to the 25 unnamed co-conspirators mentioned in the indictment, which includes some members of the bid committee for the South Africa 2010 World Cup.

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