Swiss authorities arrest 2 FIFA officials in latest round of raids

Two FIFA officials were arrested at the request of U.S. authorities on Thursday in a widening bribery case that has rocked soccer's scandal-hit governing body.

Swiss police made pre-dawn raids at the luxury Baur au Lac hotel in downtown Zurich, the same place where arrests on May 27 sparked the FIFA corruption crisis.

Switzerland's justice ministry said in a statement the two men, who were not identified, are "suspected of accepting bribes of millions of dollars."

The bribes are linked to marketing rights for the Copa America and World Cup qualifying matches, the statement said.

"FIFA is aware of the actions taken today by the U.S. Department of Justice," the governing body said in a statement. "FIFA will continue to cooperate fully with the U.S. investigation as permitted by Swiss law, as well as with the investigation being led by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General. FIFA will have no further comment on today's developments."

It is a further strike by the U.S. Department of Justice at the heart of FIFA ahead of a key meeting of soccer's international leaders. The arrests were made ahead of a 9 a.m. (0800 GMT) FIFA executive committee meeting which is scheduled to approve wide-ranging reforms to help protect against corrupt officials.

The reforms are a response to the dual American and Swiss federal investigations of corruption implicating FIFA leaders and which forced President Sepp Blatter to announce his resignation plans in June.

On May 27, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted two FIFA vice presidents among 14 soccer and marketing officials linked to bribes worth tens of millions of dollars for the Copa America and other regional tournaments in South and Central America. Four other men made guilty pleas.

The two men arrested Thursday face police hearings later in the day to consider the requests from American law enforcement agencies ahead of extradition proceedings.

"According to the arrest requests, some of the offences were agreed and prepared in the USA. Payments were also processed via U.S. banks," the Swiss justice ministry said.

The arrests Thursday follow increased activity in the FIFA bribery case in recent weeks, with South American soccer leaders targeted.

FIFA executive committee member Luis Bedoya of Colombia resigned his position last month. Colombian prosecutors said they are investigating financial transactions by Bedoya and requested information from U.S. authorities.

Chilean soccer federation president Sergio Jadue resigned also last month and traveled to Miami, amid media reports he was cooperating with U.S. investigators.

The indictment published in May said most presidents of the 10 South American federations would receive $1.5 million in bribes from marketing company Datisa from each of four editions of the Copa America being played from 2015 through 2023.

The last six months have been the most turbulent period of Blatter's 17-year reign as FIFA president.

The Swiss official was re-elected as FIFA president on May 29, three days after a raid in Zurich by Swiss police resulted in seven officials being arrested and criminal proceedings being opened regarding "systematic and deep-rooted" corruption in soccer.

As a result of the Swiss investigation, Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini are currently serving 90-day suspensions amid FIFA ethics investigations involving $2 million of FIFA money Blatter approved for Platini in 2011 as backdated salary.

Both face lifetime bans at ethics hearings expected this month.