NEW YORK (AFP) - Corrupt officials at world soccer's governing body FIFA took bribes during the process that awarded the 2010 World Cup to South Africa, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch alleged Wednesday.
"Around 2004, bidding began for the opportunity to host the 2010 World Cup, which was ultimately awarded to South Africa, the first time the tournament would be held on the African continent," she told a news conference.
"But even for this historic event, FIFA executives and others corrupted the process by using bribes to influence the hosting decision."
The soccer officials arrested on Wednesday in the US investigation into the FIFA governing body have corrupted the international game, Lynch said.
"They corrupted the business of worldwide soccer to serve their interests and to enrich themselves," she told a news conference called to discuss indictments unsealed by US authorities.
She added: "This Department of Justice is determined to end these practices to root out corruption and bring wrongdoers to justice." She spoke after Swiss authorities acting on the US indictments detained several FIFA leaders in a dawn raid in Zurich as part of a corruption probe that has rocked the sport's governing body.
The department alleges former FIFA vice president Jack Warner solicited $10 million in bribes from the South African government to host the 2010 World Cup and diverted bribes for personal use.
Kelly Currie, acting US attorney for the eastern district of New York, said Wednesday's actions mark the beginning rather than the end of the probe.