U.S. prosecutors have sent Switzerland a formal request to extradite seven FIFA officials who had been arrested in May in Zurich in a corruption investigation of soccer’s governing body.
The FIFA officials were arrested May 27, and the extradition request, submitted by the U.S. Embassy in Bern, came within the deadline laid down by the bilateral extradition treaty between the U.S. and Switzerland.
As we reported in May, the U.S. Justice Department indicted 14 people from the U.S. and South America, including nine senior FIFA officials, seven of whom were arrested in Switzerland at the time. Here’s more from our story at the time:
“Of the nine officials who were indicted, two of them are FIFA vice presidents. Charges in the 47-count indictment include bribery, racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud. Five corporate executives were also indicted.”
U.S. officials alleged the suspects were part of money-laundering schemes and complex bribery payments within FIFA.
“These crimes are thought to have been agreed and prepared in the USA, and payments were allegedly routed through U.S. banks,” Switzerland’s Federal Office of Justice said today.
The office said the seven FIFA officials will be given an extradition hearing, after which they, or their lawyers, will have 14 days to respond. The office will take “a few weeks” to rule on the extradition request, but the ruling can be challenged in courts.
The men, who face 20 years in prison, all oppose being extradited to the U.S.
The corruption scandal at soccer’s governing body forced the resignation in June of its chief, Sepp Blatter, who had been re-elected to another term as president just days earlier. He said he will stay on as president until a successor is elected.