Wednesday 17 January 2018

Fifa crisis grows as US demands extraditions

Sepp Blatter is reportedly under investigation himself by the FBI
Sepp Blatter is reportedly under investigation himself by the FBI

Ben Rumsby

The Fifa crisis intensified last night after the United States asked Switzerland to surrender seven senior football officials being held on suspicion of a £100million fraud.

The Swiss Federal Office of Justice confirmed it had received a formal extradition request from the US embassy in Berne for the men arrested during a dawn raid on a luxury Zurich hotel just over five weeks ago.

The seven, who include two Fifa vice-presidents, are being held in separate detention facilities around the city. They are permitted only one visit a week, and must remain behind a glass partition during the visits, according to a source close to one of the detainees.

The US justice department's indictments against the men state they could face up to 20 years in jail if found guilty. But it could be months before they face trial, with the FOJ confirming they could take legal challenges to extradition all the way to Switzerland's supreme court.

It is alleged that in return for the money, the officials awarded contracts for media, marketing and sponsorship rights to football tournaments in the US and Latin America. The payments are said to have been routed through American banks.

In total, the US Department of Justice has indicted 18 people as part of its investigation. Four have pleaded guilty to corruption charges, including former Fifa executive member Chuck Blazer, who has admitted taking a bribe to vote for South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup. The Swiss authorities are leading a separate investigation into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Days after the arrests, Sepp Blatter was elected to a fifth term as Fifa president, but less than a week later he announced he would lay down his mandate at an extraordinary congress which is expected to take place early next year. Blatter is reportedly under investigation himself by the FBI.

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

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