Update 2, after which I'll start a new post: From Brian Quarstad via Beau Dure: among the people named in the DoJ indictment which was unsealed this morning in Washington is NASL CEO Aaron Davidson.
*Update: US Attorney General Loretta Lynch just confirmed that the FBI is in fact executing a search warrant on CONCACAF HQ
One of the best laughs of my morning came courtesy of eagle-eyed BigSoccer aficionado Pablo Chicago, who hooked me up with a just-released statement from the office of Alleged Human Being Jack Warner, who notes, amongst other self-serving mewlings that:
I have been afforded no due process and I have not even been questioned in this matter.
The reasons for this being that I am in hiding down here like a retired Mafiosi or runaway SS officer, protected by the local government, and refuse to meet with US or Interpol officials.
I reiterate that I am innocent of any charges.
Please stop that laughing.
I have walked away from the politics of world football to immerse myself in the improvement of lives in this country where I shall, God willing, die.
Just not soon enough.
The only interesting thing about his statement was the previously unreported news that the FBI is apparently doing some housecleaning down at CONCACAF HQ in Miami. Obviously Jack still has some inside sources.. Quelle suprise.
Comic relief aside, and with the understanding that there's a lot we're still finding out, here's what we can say for certain:
None of what has happened today will prevent Sepp Blatter's re-election on Friday and FIFA is no closer to revoking Qatar's 2022 World Cup than they were yesterday.
Early reports were muddled, but we now know that the Swiss and US investigations,while carried out cooperatively, have two different tracks. At least for the moment.
The US Department of Justice has made a number of arrests in relation to a $100 million bribery and kickback scandal involving CONCACAF and CONMEBOL officials and,apparently directed by Traffic Sports, the prime force behind the NASL.
A total of seven people were actually arrested in Zurich this morning, including CONCACAF President Jeff Webb, another FIFA Vice President Eugenio Figueredo of Uruguay and some assorted South American FA presidents and officials.
Named in the same indictment were Jack Warner and the equally venal and disgusting Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay, a former CONMEBOL President and longtime FIFA ExCo member, who of course were not there but are subject to arrest.
To understand the FBI's area of focus, read the statement from Switzerland's Federal Office of Justice"
"The bribery suspects – representatives of sports media and sports promotion firms – are alleged to have been involved in schemes to make payments to the soccer functionaries – delegates of Fifa and other functionaries of Fifa sub-organisations – totaling more than $100m.
"In return, it is believed that they received media, marketing and sponsorship rights in connection with soccer tournaments in Latin America. According to the US request, these crimes were agreed and prepared in the US, and payments were carried out via US banks."
(May I just comment in passing how appallingly stupid it is to pay bribes through "US banks" particularly if you're an organization headquartered in the Caribbean? Webb is the President of a bank in the Cayman Islands but he didn't know how to hide some kick backs?)
The relevant point is that the President of CONCACAF will soon be getting off a plane in New York wearing handcuffs. I grant you it's not the one we WISH was getting off the plane in handcuffs, but it's a step in the right direction.
In conjunction with the guilty pleas announced from Traffic Sports and it's owner/founder - who is obviously singing like a bird to save his own hide - it's clear that the FBI tapped into a huge kickback scheme in this hemisphere but which does not apparently involve FIFA.
Interestingly, a German source is now reporting that the payoffs included bribes paid in return for the rights to tournaments in the US.
But as satisfying as it might be, this gets us no closer to Qatar, which brings us to the Swiss end of the investigation.
At the same time the police were arresting the seven indicted officials, they conducted a raid on FIFA headquarters, carting away "electronic data" and records, and serving subpoenas on the ten current FIFA ExCo members who participated in the Qatar 2022 vote.
We don't know a lot about what they have, but it's clear they think they've got enough to go on.
Which brings us to FIFA and it's Grand Poobah:
A funny thing happened on the way to Sepp Blatter's coronation on Friday:
A bunch of the voters got dragged out of their swanky Five Star Zurich hotel at dawn in handcuffs.
Now to an ordinary man, the fact that the police basically kicked in the doors of the company you have run like a personal fiefdom for 30 years, carted off a couple truckloads of files and computers and arrested some of your employees on corruption charges might prove to be something of an embarrassment.
But not for Sepp.
FIFA spokesperson Walter De Gregorio, while admitting that this is "certainly a difficult time for us" added that President Blatter is "calm", that none of this means there should be a "revote" on Qatar or a delay in the Presidential voting.
Of course not.
He added the arrested Fifa executives will not be suspended until investigations are completed and concluded that the arrests represent "a good day"for FIFA. So assuming they can make bail they'll all be casting their votes for Blatter on Friday.
A point which FIFA is already making and will undoubtedly continue to make. The fact that all of this sordid stuff has taken place on his watch doesn't matter. What matters is that Sepp get to continue what he calls his "mission".
In the end, some guys will go to jail, some other guys will take their place and FIFA will roll on under the benevolent gaze of Joseph Blatter, as it has since 1998 and will until he drops over dead.
It's the FIFA way.