Zurich, May 27 (IANS) The Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police confirmed here on Wednesday the arrest of six senior officials of FIFA, the international governing body of football, over charges of corruption.
The authorities indicated they intend to send those arrested to the United States, which has an extradition treaty with Switzerland, to stand trial in New York where a prosecutor accused them of accepting bribes from the early 1990s onwards, reports Efe.
“The US authorities suspect the six arrested officials of having received or paid bribes totalling millions of dollars,” the Federal Office of Justice said in a statement.
Those detained were here for activities at FIFA’s world headquarters prior to the organisation’s congress on Friday where it will elect its president for the next four years. It had been taken for granted that Sepp Blatter would be re-elected for a fifth term but Wednesday’s events may change that.
Zurich police officers in plainclothes descended on a luxury hotel at dawn, presented the relevant court orders, and received keys to the suspected officials’ rooms. The arrests were made peacefully. The six detained FIFA members will be questioned later.
According to a note from the Federal Office of Justice, the bribery suspects, representatives of sports media and promotion firms, are alleged to have been involved in schemes to make payments to football functionaries (FIFA delegates) and other functionaries of FIFA sub-organisations worth more than $100 million.
“In return, it is believed that they received media, marketing, and sponsorship rights in connection with football tournaments in Latin America,” the statement added.
According to the US extradition request, these crimes were agreed and prepared in the US and payments were made through American banks. The Swiss ministry of justice and police said a simplified procedure will apply to suspects who agree to immediate extradition.
In their case Swiss authorities can immediately approve extradition to the US and order its execution. However, if the wanted persons oppose their extradition, the Swiss will invite the US to submit a formal extradition request within a 40-day deadline.