U.S. officials have requested the extradition of seven high-ranking FIFA officials arrested in Switzerland in May. They are suspected of taking bribes worth over $100 million in connection with soccer tournaments.
The seven were detained in a dawn raid on a hotel on the eve of FIFA’s World Congress in Zurich, Switzerland, on the basis of a request from the United States.
Among them is Jeffrey Webb, a FIFA vice president and head of CONCACAF, the soccer governing body for North America and the Caribbean.
Another is Jose Maria Marin, head of the Brazilian Football Federation from March 2012 to April 2015. Marin also served as head of the 2014 World Cup committee. The 83-year-old was also governor of Sao Paulo for a short period in the 1980s.
The arrests at the heart of soccer’s governing body shocked the wider world of football and were followed within days by the announcement by newly reelected FIFA president Sepp Blatter that he would resign.
In its 47-count indictment, issued in Brooklyn, the U.S. Department of Justice accused 14 people of racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy.
The FIFA officials held in Zurich are among those being investigated for taking bribes worth huge sums over more than two decades.
“In return, those suspected of paying the bribes — representatives of sports media and sports promotion firms — are believed to have received media, marketing and sponsorship rights for soccer tournaments in the United States and in Latin America,” the Swiss justice department statement said.
“These crimes are thought to have been agreed and prepared in the USA, and payments were allegedly routed through U.S. banks.”
The U.S. Embassy in Bern on Wednesday submitted formal extradition requests for the seven arrested, the Swiss justice department said in a statement Thursday.
The seven FIFA officials will be given a hearing by Zurich police on the extradition requests. They will then have another two weeks to respond to the requests.
After hearing the various arguments, the Swiss justice department will rule on extradition “within a few weeks,” the statement said. That decision may be challenged in the courts.