Fifagate saga rumbles on as two more senior officials are arrested in Zurich.
Two more senior figures within world football federation FIFA were among a new wave of arrests early today at the Baur au Lac hotel where delegates to this week’s crucial meeting of the executive committee have been staying.
The two men arrested were Juan Angel Napout, the Paraguayan president of CONMEBOL, the South American confederation, and Alfredo Hawit, Honduran head of CONCACF, the central and north American governing body.
Napout stepped up into the presidency in August last year. Both his predecessors are the subject of extradition applications by the United States Department of Justice: Uruguayan Eugenio Figueredo is one of the ‘Zurich Seven’ while Paragauayan Nicolas Leoz is contesting an application to his national judicial authorities.
Hawit’s two predecessors as CONCACAF leaders are also in the line of fire. Jeffrey Webb from the Cayman Islands is under house arrest already in the US while Jack Warner is fighting a bid to extradite him from his native Trinidad.
Swiss authorities said that today’s arrests concerned the acceptance of millions of dollars in bribes.
Loretta Lynch, the US Attorney-General, had stated earlier this autumn that more arrests in the FIFAGate investigation should be expected. A parallel inquiry is being run by the Swiss authorities into circumstances surrounding the controversial award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.
Last month the presidents of the Chilean and Colombian federations – Sergio Jadue and Luis Bedoya – both took sudden leave of absence to fly to the United States where it was believed they had agreed to co-operate with investigators.
FIFA, reacting to the latest arrests, said: “FIFA is aware of the actions taken today by the U S Department of Justice.
“FIFA will continue to cooperate 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.”
The Swiss Federal Department of Justice confirmed the two arrests being based on arrest requests submitted by the US DoJ alleging the acceptance of bribes.
A statement added: “The high-ranking FIFA officials are alleged to have taken the money in return for selling marketing rights in connection with football tournaments in Latin America, as well as World Cup qualifying matches.
“According to the arrest requests, some of the offences were agreed and prepared in the USA. Payments were also processed via US banks.”