Loretta Lynch Earns Global Recognition with FIFA Charges

Loretta E. Lynch on Wednesday.  Her news conference made her the face of the United States government’s crackdown on some of the world’s most influential soccer officials. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times
Loretta E. Lynch on Wednesday. Her news conference made her the face of the United States government’s crackdown on some of the world’s most influential soccer officials. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

Thabiso Sithole, a sports reporter with the South African Broadcasting Corporation, had just finished his Wednesday evening segment on the American indictments that had rocked international soccer when his cousin called.

“Who is this Loretta Lynch person?” she said.

Ms. Lynch, only one month into her job as attorney general, captured the world’s attention this week when she vowed to rid FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, of corruption. Her news conference on Wednesday was watched around the world and made her the face of the United States government’s crackdown on some of the world’s most influential soccer officials.

“She’s been Googled more than a couple times here,” Mr. Sithole said by telephone from South Africa. “It was interesting, from this side, that there’s a woman calling the shots for the U.S., and a black woman at that. In particular, going up against football, which is such a boys’ club.”

The Argentine newspaper La Nación introduced Ms. Lynch as “the relentless attorney.” In Paris, Le Figaro called her “the woman who is rocking FIFA.” In Germany, she was simply called FIFA-Jägerin — the FIFA hunter.

The FIFA indictment capped a month in which Ms. Lynch set in motion a civil rights investigation into the Baltimore Police Department and slapped Wall Street banks with billions of dollars in fines for manipulating currency markets. It was the most high-profile debut for an attorney general since at least 2001, when John Ashcroft accused Robert P. Hanssen, a veteran F.B.I. agent, of being a spy for Moscow in one of the most serious espionage cases in a generation.

In an interview this week, Ms. Lynch deflected questions about her role in leading the investigation. Law enforcement officials say she was steeped in the details and involved in every major decision, but did not seize control from the prosecutors and agents who supervised it. Ms. Lynch said she did not stay awake to monitor the arrests of senior FIFA officials in Zurich, leaving it instead in the hands of prosecutors and F.B.I. agents. “I let my people do their thing,” she said. “And it’s an excellent staff.”

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Source: The New York Times | 

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