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US Demands Extradition of Seven FIFA Executives

Swiss officials will rule within a few weeks on whether to extradite the seven men, who include three current and former members of the executive committee of soccer's global governing body.

by VICE News
Jul 2 2015, 12:14pm

Imagen por Michael Probst/AP

The US Department of Justice has formally requested the extradition of seven top FIFA executives arrested on corruption charges in May, Swiss authorities said on Thursday.

The extradition requests were received from the US embassy in Bern late on Wednesday, asking for the seven officials of soccer's global governing body to be sent for trial in America, where they face around 20 years in jail each for their alleged parts in "rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted" corruption.

The men, who include three current and former members of FIFA's executive committee, have already objected to extradition. They will be given a hearing by Zurich police acting on behalf of the Swiss Federal Office of Justice.

Swiss justice officials will then rule "within a few weeks" on whether to extradite them. That ruling can be appealed to Switzerland's top criminal court and supreme court.

FIFA was thrown into crisis on May 27 when dual raids were carried out on a luxury downtown hotel and at FIFA's headquarters, two days before its presidential election.

Related: FIFA Fallout Intensifies as Putin Accuses US of 'Illegally Persecuting People'

The American investigation alleges bribery and racketeering worth more than $150 million involving high-ranking FIFA officials over more than two decades.

An indictment of 14 soccer and marketing officials published in May by the DoJ alleged bribery linked to awarding broadcast rights for international tournaments in North and South America.

Former FIFA executive panel member Chuck Blazer admitted being part of a $10 million bribe scheme with former FIFA vice president Jack Warner for supporting South Africa's successful bid to host the 2010 World Cup. A third South American FIFA voter was also involved, Blazer alleged.

Related: From Drug Money to FIFA: How Banks Facilitate Illicit Transfers Around the World

FIFA has acknowledged that its secretary general Jerome Valcke helped transfer the money through its accounts at South Africa's request. FIFA and Valcke said the cash was believed to be for soccer projects for the African diaspora in the Caribbean, and was approved by Julio Grondona of Argentina, the chairman of FIFA's finance committee who died last year.

American law enforcement officials have confirmed that FIFA President Sepp Blatter — who announced his intention to resign in June — is a target of the investigation which is expected to bring more indictments.

A separate Swiss federal investigation is looking at allegations of money laundering linked to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting awards to Russia and Qatar respectively.

Related: Sepp Blatter to Resign as FIFA President

The Associated Press contributed to this report.