The Fifa presidential election will take place on Friday as planned despite the arrest of seven Fifa officials on charges they received millions of US dollars in bribes.
Among those arrested are Fifa vice-president Jeffrey Webb.
A separate criminal investigation into how the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were allocated has also begun.
Sepp Blatter faces Prince Ali bin al-Hussein in Friday’s election as he seeks a fifth term as Fifa president.
The seven Fifa officials were arrested after the US Department of Justice issued a 47-count indictment charging 14 defendants with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies in a 24-year scheme.
“The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic and deep-rooted,” said New York 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.”
The charges allege:
- Nine current or former Fifa officials, including Webb and former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner, charged with corruption
- Four individual and two corporate defendants, including former Concacaf general secretary Chuck Blazer and Warner’s sons Daryan and Daryll, plead guilty.
- Alleged scheme “fostered a culture of corruption and greed that created uneven playing field”
- “Undisclosed and illegal payments, kickbacks and bribes became a way of doing business at Fifa”
- Majority of scheme involved corruption over media and marketing rights to matches and tournaments
Those arrested in a dawn raid at the prestigious Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich were Webb, Eduardo Li, Julio Rocha, Costas Takkas, Eugenio Figueredo, Rafael Esquivel and Jose Maria Marin.
Fifa, world football’s governing body, has been dogged by allegations of corruption and wrongdoing in recent years.
The latest developments are another major blow, although Fifa communications director Walter De Gregorio insisted the organisation was continuing to reform. “This is good for Fifa,” he told a news conference following news of the arrests.
“It hurts, it is not easy, but it confirms we are on the right track.”
In a separate move, Swiss authorities also opened criminal proceedings over the awarding of the hosting rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
A statement from the Swiss attorney general said they seized electronic data from Fifa’s headquarters in Zurich as they probed “criminal mismanagement” and “money laundering”.
Swiss police added that they will question 10 Fifa executive committee members who took part when voting took place in December 2010. Russia and Qatar will host the 2018 and 2022 Word Cups respectively.
Fifa has also already ruled out a revote.