FIFA comms director Walter De Gregorio denies there is a crisis

Walter De Gregorio, FIFA's director of comms and public affairs, downplayed the arrest of FIFA officials and corporate executives during an emergency press conference today.

Walter De Gregorio: Fifa’s director of communications and public affairs
Walter De Gregorio: Fifa’s director of communications and public affairs

The Swiss authorities and the US Department of Justice are investigating corruption relating to lucrative media and marketing rights of football tournaments. Four of the 14 people indicted are sports marketing executives.

Meanwhile, problems could deepen for FIFA as the Swiss Attorney General announced it would launch a separate investigation into the allocation of the FIFA World Cup to Russia (2018) and Qatar (2022).

During the press conference, announced this morning, De Gregorio denied that FIFA was in crisis. He claimed the governing body had initiated the investigation when it went to the Swiss Attorney General in November 2014.

"It’s a surprise that [the arrests] happened today but it’s not a surprise that it happened, " he claimed.

"It’s a hard time – not nice to be here… At the same this is good for FIFA, this is good. It confirms we are on the right track. It hurts, it’s not easy, but it’s the only way to go and we are ready to go the way we started four years ago and nothing will stop us.

"In this case, FIFA is the damaged party and this leads to the fact that there were no searches in the offices of FIFA."

De Gregorio also confirmed:

- FIFA general secretary Jérôme Valcke and president Sepp Blatter were "not involved" in the procedure.

- No suspensions would be made at FIFA at this time.

- The FIFA presidential election will take place as scheduled and will not be postponed.

- The Garcia Report, which was commissioned by FIFA to look into the allegations of corruption in world football, "will be published" for the general public. However, no time frame was given.

- Russia and Qatar will remain as the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup, respectively. 

In a comprehensive statement, the US Department of Justice claimed there has been a 24-year corruption scheme in place at FIFA.

A total of 14 individuals have been indicted for racketeering, conspiracy and corruption – including nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives. They include:

Jeffrey Webb: Current FIFA vice-president and executive committee member, CONCACAF president, Caribbean Football Union (CFU) executive committee member and Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) president.

Eduardo Li: Current FIFA executive committee member-elect, CONCACAF executive committee member and Costa Rican soccer federation (FEDEFUT) president.

Julio Rocha: Current FIFA development officer. Former Central American Football Union (UNCAF) president and Nicaraguan soccer federation (FENIFUT) president.

Costas Takkas: Current attaché to the CONCACAF president. Former CIFA general secretary.

Jack Warner: Former FIFA vice-president and executive committee member, CONCACAF president, CFU president and Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) special adviser.

Eugenio Figueredo: Current FIFA vice-president and executive committee member.  Former CONMEBOL president and Uruguayan soccer federation (AUF) president.

Rafael Esquivel: Current CONMEBOL executive committee member and Venezuelan soccer federation (FVF) president.

José Maria Marin: Current member of the FIFA organising committee for the Olympic football tournaments. Former CBF president.

Nicolás Leoz: Former FIFA executive committee member and CONMEBOL president.

Four of the defendants were sports marketing executives:

Alejandro Burzaco: Controlling principal of Torneos y Competencias SA, a sports marketing business based in Argentina, and its affiliates.

Aaron Davidson: President of Traffic Sports USA.

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

One defendant was in the broadcasting business but allegedly served as an intermediary to facilitate illicit payments between sports marketing executives and soccer officials:

José Margulies:  Controlling principal of Valente and Somerton

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