GENEVA — Six FIFA officials were arrested in Zurich on Wednesday and detained pending extradition as the United States authorities suspect them of having received bribes totaling in the millions U.S. dollars, the Federal Office of Justice of Switzerland (FOJ) said.
The arrest took place one day before FIFA’ s 65th congress is due to gather in Zurich from Thursday for the presidential election on Friday.
According to a statement by FOJ, the six soccer functionaries were arrested by the Zurich Cantonal Police and the arrest warrants were issued further to a request by the US authorities.
The US Attorney’ s Office for the Eastern District of New York is investigating these individuals on suspicion of the acceptance of bribes and kick-backs between the early 1990s and the present day.
The bribery suspects, representatives of sports media and sports promotion firms, are alleged to have been involved in schemes to make payments to the soccer functionaries – delegates of FIFA and other functionaries of FIFA sub-organizations – totaling more than 100 million USD.
In return, it is believed that they received media, marketing, and sponsorship rights in connection with soccer tournaments in Latin America.
According to the U.S. request, these crimes were agreed and prepared in the U.S., and payments were carried out via U.S. banks.
The Zurich Cantonal Police will question the detainees Wednesday on behalf of the FOJ regarding the US request for their arrest. The FOJ can immediately approve their extradition to the U.S. and order its execution. However, if a wanted person opposes their extradition, the FOJ will invite the U.S. side to submit a formal extradition request within the deadline of 40 days specified in the bilateral extradition treaty.