A combination of file pictures made on May 27 shows FIFA officials. From left to right from upper row: Rafael Esquivel, Nicolas Leoz, Jeffrey Webb, Jack Warner, Eduardo Li, Eugenio Figueredo and Jose Maria Marin. The seven men are among several soccer officials arrested. (AFP/Getty Images)

The Justice Department unsealed a 47-count indictment early Wednesday charging 14 world soccer figures, including officials of FIFA, with racketeering, bribery, money laundering and fraud. Four of those accused, including two sports marketing companies, have already pleaded guilty and are likely to be cooperating.

[The latest | U.S. AG: Corruption allowed members to get kickbacks ‘year after year’]

Among the “alleged schemes,” said the Justice Department, were kickbacks to FIFA officials by executives and companies involved in soccer marketing and “bribes and kickbacks in connection” with “the selection of the host country for the 2010 World Cup and the 2011 FIFA presidential election.” FIFA is the French abbreviation for the international Federation of Football Associations, the global governing body of soccer.

Swiss prosecutors, in a related announcement, said they had opened criminal proceedings against unidentified individuals on suspicion of mismanagement and money laundering related to the awarding of rights to host the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The separate Swiss probe includes “electronic data and documents” seized at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich, the Swiss prosecutor’s office said. Swiss police said they will question at least 10 FIFA executive committee members who took part in the World Cup votes in December 2010 that named Russia and Qatar as host nations for the next two tournaments.

But FIFA said those awards to Qatar and Russia would not be reconsidered.

The unsealing of the U.S. indictments early Wednesday followed a roundup of FIFA officials at a swanky hotel in Zurich, where the organization is headquartered and where an important meeting was planned. The Swiss said they were acting at the behest of the United States, which had requested the extradition of those arrested.

The allegations of corruption in the most popular sport on the planet surprised no one. For years, a shadow has hung over international soccer. Again and again, allegations have swirled around the sport’s organizing body, centering around accusations of rampant bribery in connection with FIFA decisions.

But the announcements that people were actually being arrested and criminally charged took the world by surprise and came in a rapid-fire series of events.

[John Oliver crushes Seth Blatter on ‘This Week Tonight’]

Around midnight Eastern time, the New York Times reported that indictments prepared in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn would be unsealed Wednesday. Then Swiss authorities, at dawn in Zurich, began making arrests. A Times reporter, tipped off, tweeted from the lobby of the five-star Baur au Lac hotel as arrests were being made.

The Justice Department announcement came in a press release around 5 a.m. Eastern time.

Those charged, the Justice Department said, “include U.S. and South American sports marketing executives who are alleged to have systematically paid and agreed to pay well over $150 million in bribes and kickbacks to obtain lucrative media and marketing rights to international soccer tournaments.”

“Jeffrey Webb and Jack Warner — the current and former presidents of CONCACAF, the continental confederation under FIFA headquartered in the United States — are among the soccer officials charged with racketeering and bribery offenses,” the Justice Department said.

A search warrant was being executed at the continental confederation’s office in Miami, according to the Justice Department.

“The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch.  “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.”


Members of the media stand outside the Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich. Six soccer officials were arrested in Zurich on May 27 and detained pending extradition to the United States over suspected corruption at soccer’s governing body FIFA, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice said in a statement. (Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters)

Guilty pleas, according to Justice, have come from Charles Blazer, former general secretary of CONCACAF and a former U.S. representative on FIFA’s executive committee; Jose Hawilla, owner and founder of Traffic Group, a sports marketing conglomerate based in Brazil; and two of Hawilla’s companies, Traffic Sports International and Traffic Sports USA, based in Florida.

What appears to be a related investigation based in Switzerland centers on successful bids for upcoming World Cups in Russia and Qatar.

Those indicted, in addition to Webb and Warner, include:

Eduardo Li, current FIFA executive committee president and president of the Costa Rican soccer federation.

Julio Rocha, current FIFA development officer and former head of the Central American Football Union.

Costas Takkas, an attache and former general secretary of the Cayman Islands Football Association.

Eugenio Figueredo, current FIFA vice president and executive committee members.

Rafael Esquivel, president of the Venezuelan soccer federation.

Jose Maria Marin, member of the FIFA organizing committee for the Olympic football tournaments.

Nicolas Leoz, former FIFA executive committee member.

Alejandro Burzaco, a sports marketing executive based in Argentina.

Aaron Davidson, president of Traffic Sports USA.

Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, principals of Full Play Group, a sports marketing business based in Argentina.

The pre-dawn operation and the U.S. indictments were the culmination of a three-year international investigation into the powerful soccer organization. They follow months of intensifying speculation and years of corruption accusations against FIFA, officially titled the Federation Internationale de Football Association. FIFA presides over international soccer and is in charge of awarding the World Cup. The organization currently sits on more than $1.5 billion in cash reserves, according to the Times.

The Post's Marissa Payne details the charges facing nine FIFA officials in a round of indictments from the U.S., and delves into why FIFA's president Sepp Blatter is not facing charges. (Editor's note: This video reports that Jeffrey Webb is FIFA's vice president. FIFA has more than one vice president.) (Nicki DeMarco and Marissa Payne/The Washington Post)

The FBI, IRS and Justice Department are all involved in the investigation, which is being led by the Brooklyn U.S. attorney’s office.

The arrests come just two days before FIFA’s presidential elections. Current President Sepp Blatter is expected to win reelection but has come under withering criticism over the ongoing corruption investigation. Earlier this month he was forced to deny that he was a target of the probe and was avoiding traveling to the U.S.

Blatter is not one of the officials indicted. But the list does include several top FIFA officials, including executive committee members Webb and Figueredo (Uruguay), who until recently was the president of South America’s soccer association.

Aaron Davidson, president of Traffic Sports USA.

Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, principals of Full Play Group, a sports marketing business based in Argentina.

The pre-dawn operation and the U.S. indictments were the culmination of a three-year international investigation into the powerful soccer organization. They follow months of intensifying speculation and years of corruption accusations against FIFA, officially titled the Federation Internationale de Football Association. FIFA presides over international soccer and is in charge of awarding the World Cup. The organization currently sits on more than $1.5 billion in cash reserves, according to the Times.

The FBI, IRS and Justice Department are all involved in the investigation, which is being led by the Brooklyn U.S. attorney’s office.

The arrests come just two days before FIFA’s presidential elections. Current President Sepp Blatter is expected to win reelection but has come under withering criticism over the ongoing corruption investigation. Earlier this month he was forced to deny that he was a target of the probe and was avoiding traveling to the U.S.

Blatter is not one of the officials indicted. But the list does include several top FIFA officials, including executive committee members Webb and Figueredo (Uruguay), who until recently was the president of South America’s soccer association.

The selection of Russia and Qatar for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, respectively, were already controversial enough without being connected to corruption allegations. Critics have questioned the decision to award Russia the World Cup when the country is currently occupying Crimea, for example.

Qatar, meanwhile, has come under criticism for its treatment of migrant workers. A report commissioned by Qatar suggested a host of reforms, including blacklisting contractors that cut corners on safety. It also noted nearly 1,000 workers from Nepal, India and Bangladesh — the bulk the migrant labor force in the Gulf nation — died in Qatar in 2012 and 2013. About a quarter of the deaths were blamed on heart problems, while several dozen fatalities occurred on job sites.

Earlier this month, critics demanded World Cup sponsors pull out of Qatar over work conditions. And on Saturday, the Nepalese government said its citizens had not been allowed to leave Qatar to attend funerals for family members killed in the recent earthquake.

Wednesday’s arrests and indictments could still shake-up FIFA’s elections. A month ago, Blatter seemed bound for his fifth stint as president after fighting off several challengers, including former soccer star Luis Figo.

The indictments don’t reflect well on the incumbent, however. Although not indicted, Blatter hasn’t been cleared of wrongdoing either, the Times reported. A growing chorus of notable figures from within soccer have said it is time for him to step down. Earlier this week, after dropping out of the election, Figo called Blatter a “dictator.”

Blatter’s remaining opponent, Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, has campaigned on a promise to clean up the organization. Earlier this week, he announced that he had been approached by someone offering to secure votes in exchange for money. Hussein said he took the information to the police.

This story previously reported incorrectly the number of migrant worker deaths while building World Cup venues. This post has been updated.