FIFA Vice Presidents Arrested In Latest Pre-Dawn Raids Over Alleged Bribes Worth Millions
A couple of “high ranking” officials of world football governing body FIFA were arrested on Thursday at a hotel here on suspicion that they had accepted around a million dollars of bribes.
Reports say they were arrested from the Baur au Lac hotel here, where in May several other top officials were taken into custody in May.
Presently a two-day meeting of FIFA’s executive committee is taking place in the city to vote on reforms, reports the BBC.
The Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FoJ) alleged that the duo who were apprehended had taken bribes in relation to selling marketing rights of football leagues in South America and World Cup qualifying games.
“A further two FIFA officials were arrested in Zurich today,” the Swiss FoJ said on Thursday.
“They are being held in custody pending their extradition (to the US). According to the US arrest requests, they are suspected of accepting bribes of millions of dollars.”
According to reports, FIFA vice-presidents Alfredo Hawit of Honduras and Juan Angel Napout of Paraguay are reported to be the two men who were arrested at 6am on orders issued by the Swiss Federal Office of Justice on behalf of the US DoJ.
Brazil football president Marco Polo del Nero, who fled back to his country immediately after the May arrests at the Baur au Lac, is also understood to have been arrested as part of the latest raids.
Hawit and Napout sat on FIFA’s highest decision-making board, the executive committee, on Wednesday but will now be missing from Friday’s meetings when the latest reforms of football’s governing body are expected to be ratified.
A Swiss criminal investigation into the bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups has also been launched alongside the US inquiry.
FIFA said they will abide by what the investigation and co-operate with it.
“FIFA became aware of the actions taken today by the US Department of Justice,” football’s world governing body said in a statement on Thursday.
“FIFA will continue to co-operate fully with the US investigation as permitted by Swiss law, as well as with the investigation being led by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General.”
“FIFA will have no further comment on today’s developments,” it added.