The FIFA arrests may not have surprised many observers of the world of FIFA and its odd choice of football associates and sponsors, but the question that has puzzled some is just how the US intends to have those charged in the US but who are currently in Switzerland arrive into a US court.
Philip Bump of ‘The Fix’, writing for the Washington Post observes that FIFA’s “sketchy practices” and poorly kept secrets made the ‘soccer-indifferent’ Americans needing to point out that the emperor’s clothes appear to have been stolen.
And so to the indictments.
The idea of the United States as the world’s police force is rarely understood to be so literal.
To understand how the United States was able to flex its legal muscle across the Atlantic, we spoke by phone with Jessica Tillipman, assistant dean and lecturer at the George Washington University Law School.
“You have U.S. statutes where there are extraterritorial provisions that can reach foreign citizens if they violate certain laws,” Tillipman explained. For most of those laws, there has to be “a jurisdictional hook,” she explained, an aspect of the crime that took place within the United States’ jurisdiction: A phone call that included a person in the United States, for example, or a visit to the country, or, as has happened, an e-mail that passed through a server in the country. “There has to be some sort of touch point for the United States,” Tillipman said.
In the case of the FIFA charges, the alleged crimes include wire fraud. In an e-mail to The Washington Post, Prof. Jennifer Arlen of the New York University School of Law pointed out that the need for jurisdiction in that case is fairly rigid. “With wire fraud, one needs a wire that originates in the US,” Arlen wrote. “This means that most of the acts of bribery that occurred [within FIFA] over the years would not be covered.” On Wednesday morning, the FBI searched the offices of CONCACAF, FIFA’s continental confederation located in Miami. Among the companies alleged to have been involved in criminal activity is Traffic Sports USA Inc., which also is based in Florida.
Once charges are filed, it’s not necessarily the case that a foreign government has to take action against the accused. In the case of FIFA, it seems as though the United States and the government of Switzerland, where the officials were arrested, had been working together on the charges. If not, it’s up to the country where the alleged criminals happen to be to decide whether to effect an arrest.
“Sometimes they’re able to get them without extradition,” GW’s Tillipman pointed out. “They can lure people to the United States, they land, and — surprise! That kind of thing can happen.”
Source: WashingtonPost Blog