Geneva - One of the seven FIFA officials held in Switzerland as part of an
investigation into massive corruption at football's governing body has
been extradited to the United States, the Swiss justice ministry said on
Swiss authorities last week confirmed that one of the
FIFA suspects wanted by the US had accepted extradition and that the
prisoner transfer was likely to be approved quickly.
Justice ministry spokesman Raphael Frei declined to name the official, saying only that he was extradited on Wednesday.
was handed over to a three-man US police escort in Zurich who
accompanied him on the flight to New York," the spokesman said in a
The Wall Street Journal on July 10 reported that
Jeffrey Webb of the Cayman Islands, a former FIFA vice-president, was
the suspect who agreed to be sent to the US.
All seven FIFA
officials wanted by American prosecutors were arrested in a dawn raid on
a Zurich hotel on May 27, accused of involvement in more than $150
million of bribes given for marketing deals for football tournaments in
North and South America.
According to Swiss authorities, the
extradited man is accused by the US Justice Department of pocketing
millions of dollars in connection with the sale of marketing rights to
several sports marketing firms.
He allegedly took bribes while
selling rights for World Cup matches, regional tournaments and
championships in North and South America.
The six remaining FIFA
officials wanted by the US authorities - all from South America or the
CONCACAF zone of North and Central America and the Caribbean - have not
yet agreed to be extradited.
Aside from Webb, the group includes
Eugenio Figueredo from Uruguay -- also an ex-FIFA vice president --
Costa Rican Eduardo Li, who was supposed to join the FIFA Executive
Committee in May.
There was also Brazilian football federation
chief Jose Maria Marin, Nicaraguan Julio Rocha and Costas Takkas, a
Briton who worked for the Cayman Islands federation and Rafael Esquivel,
president of the Venezuelan Football Federation.
The arrests ignited an unprecedented crisis at FIFA, with the body's president Sepp Blatter ultimately agreeing to stand down.
Blatter, 79, has denied any wrongdoing, saying he bears no responsibility for any misdeeds committed by his deputies.
extradition of the FIFA suspect comes ahead of a July 20 meeting in
Zurich, where the body's executive committee is expected to set out the
timetable to determine the election for Blatter's replacement.
and even sources close to Blatter, have not ruled out the prospect of
the embattled FIFA president reversing his decision to resign and
standing for reelection.
Meanwhile, FIFA's ethics committee on
Thursday made a demand for wider powers in its pursuit of uncovering
corruption, notably calling for greater transparency in proceedings
against accused parties.
The independent watchdog listed various
demands in a statement released hours after the extradition to the
United States of the FIFA official.
The committee's demands
included the ability to confirm ongoing proceedings against accused
parties "upon request" and to justify judgements publically, even if the
decision has not yet become legally effective.
should be accorded greater importance in the future when weighing up the
protection of privacy against disclosure," said Cornel Borbely, the
Ethics Committee's investigatory chamber chairman.