The doormen at Zurich’s Baur au Lac hotel can put away their white sheets. There will be no FIFA executives to shield while being dragged out of the hotel into police cars again.
World football’s governing body is checking out of the super-luxurious, lake-side hotel that became synonymous with corruption last year when Swiss police launched dawn raids on previously untouchable leaders.
FIFA provided no details of the rooms where council members will be staying, but the cheapest double room for October 13 at the Baur au Lac is CHF870 ($890) which can be booked at the Hyatt for CHF527, according to the Associated Press.
The decision to switch hotels was made by new FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura.
“We’re on business so a good solid business hotel I think is more appropriate,” said FIFA vice-president Victor Montagliani, who is also head of the CONCACAF regional organisation (North, Central America and the Caribbean).
“It’s not just only cost-cutting. As we have done at CONCACAF, it’s about sending a message we are here to work and I think those are some changes that have to happen.”
Moving hotels ends a troubled association with the Baur au Lac, which became world renowned – for the wrong reasons – when several football officials were arrested in their bedrooms at dawn on May 27, 2015.
Swiss police were executing arrest warrants on behalf of US authorities, which have charged more than 40 people in a football corruption investigation.
In video captured by the Associated Press, then-Costa Rican Football Federation president Eduardo Li was seen being escorted into a police car last year as hotel porters held up white sheets, unsuccessfully trying to shield him.
Despite the unwelcome wake-up call, FIFA didn’t abandon the Baur au Lac after the arrests. And police paid another visit to the hotel when FIFA executives were in Zurich last December to execute a second wave of arrests.
swissinfo.ch and agencies