Six football officials have been arrested over corruption charges at governing body Fifa, as Swiss prosecutors launch a criminal case into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.
The suspects, who are said to include a Fifa vice-president, have been detained pending extradition to the US.
It involves alleged bribes worth about $100m (£65m; €92m) over two decades.
Fifa members are due on Friday to vote for a new president, with incumbent Sepp Blatter seeking a fifth term.
However, Mr Blatter is not understood to be one of those arrested.
Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein of Jordan – Mr Blatter’s rival for the Fifa presidency – described the development as “a sad day for football”, but withheld from commenting further.
Fifa’s headquarters in Zurich has also been raided by police, with documents seized, Swiss prosecutors say.
Jeffrey Webb – head of the confederation for North and Central America and the Caribbean – has been named as one of the officials arrested, says the BBC’s Richard Conway, who is at the Zurich hotel where the arrests took place.
Other Fifa officials seen by the BBC escorted by police from the hotel include:
- Costa Rica’s national football chief Eduardo Li, who was due to join Fifa’s executive committee on Friday
- Uruguay’s Eugenio Figueredo, president of South American football governing body Conmebol
- Brazil’s Jose Maria Marin, a member of Fifa’s club committee. Police were seen carrying his suitcase and some of his possessions in plastic bags
Fifa was seeking to clarify the situation, a spokesman said.
The Swiss Federal Office of Justice said in a statement on Wednesday that US authorities suspected the officials of receiving $100m (£65m) worth of bribes since the early 1990s for football tournaments in Latin America.
The crimes were agreed to and prepared in the US via US bank accounts, it adds.
Swiss authorities can immediately approve the extradition, the statement continues.
In a separate move, prosecutors opened criminal proceedings “against persons unknown on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and of money laundering in connection with the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 football World Cups,” said a statement from the Swiss attorney-general.
Earlier this month, Mr Blatter said he was aware some of his former colleagues were under investigation but denied that it involved him.
He was responding to an ESPN documentary that claimed the Fifa president had been avoiding travel to the US for almost four years due to the investigation by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Fifa has been mired in controversy in recent years, with the most recent allegations of bribery related to the 2018 and 2022 bidding process that awarded the World Cup to Russia and Qatar respectively.
The FBI’s office in New York has been investigating Fifa for years, the Wall Street Journal reports.
But it reached a turning point when one of Fifa’s most senior US representatives in the past decade, Chuck Blazer, started working with the authorities and allegedly took part in undercover work, the paper adds.