Remarks as prepared for delivery
Thank you all for coming and thank you for having me here today. The IAP (International Association of Prosecutors) is a tremendous organization that brings together the world’s prosecutors to share insights and improve our collective ability to enforce criminal laws effectively and justly. I want to thank Attorney General [Michael] Lauber in particular for his partnership and for inviting me to participate in this wonderful conference.
I want to provide a brief update on our investigation into corruption in the world of international soccer. In May of this year, the Department of Justice announced charges against 14 individuals on allegations of bribery and corruption within the inner workings of the world’s most popular sport. In the four months since then, our work and the investigation has continued. Thirteen of the 14 defendants charged have been arrested by either U.S. or foreign authorities. Three defendants are currently in the United States and have been arraigned in federal court in Brooklyn, where the cases against them are proceeding. Ten others are currently pending extradition here in Switzerland and in three other countries. I want to thank the Swiss government for its assistance in the extradition process; our teams are coordinating not just on that front, but on our complementary investigations as well. To ensure that all these defendants – who are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty – are treated fairly and impartially, both while pending extradition abroad and awaiting trial in the United States, I cannot comment more specifically on these individuals.
What I can say is that, separate and apart from the pending indictment, our investigation remains active and ongoing, and has in fact expanded since May. As I made clear at our initial announcement, the scope of our investigation is not limited, and we are following the evidence where it leads. I am grateful for the significant cooperation and substantial evidence that we have received from all quarters. Based upon that cooperation and new evidence, we anticipate pursuing additional charges against individuals and entities.
I want to end on a note that is particularly appropriate given the occasion that has brought me to Zurich to meet with my colleagues. Our level of cooperation with our international partners in the fight against corruption in soccer has only increased since May. Our cooperation with the Swiss authorities, for which we are grateful, is strong and multifaceted. We could not ask for a better partner than Attorney General Lauber. Our simultaneous investigations are separate and complementary. But we have also begun coordinating closely with prosecutors and law enforcement officials from a number of other countries as well. I have been gratified to see that the response to this problem has not been limited to one country or even one continent. The problem of corruption in soccer is global, and we will remain vigilant in our efforts to support a global response.
One guiding principle has been a hallmark of our investigation from the beginning. It is a principle that I know is shared by Attorney General Lauber and my counterparts from other countries as well. That principle is this: all individuals involved in soccer – this beloved sport through which we teach our children sportsmanship, integrity and the fundamentals of fair play – must be committed to reform and to complying with the rule of law.
To anyone who seeks to live in the past and to return soccer to the days of corruption and bribery, cronyism and patronage, this global response sends a clear message: you are on the wrong side of progress and do a disservice to the integrity of this wonderful sport.