|FIFA vice-president Jeffrey Webb (pictured) is believed to be the first official to be extradited to the U.S after he was among seven football chiefs detained in Zurich for alleged racketeering, conspiracy and corruption|
The first of the seven FIFA officials arrested in Zurich as part of the FBI corruption probe has been extradited to the United States. The official – believed to be vice-president Jeffrey Webb – was detained in a dawn raid on May 27 at a luxury Zurich hotel, two days before FIFA's annual congress. Switzerland's Federal Office of Justice said he was handed over to three U.S. police officers who accompanied him on the flight to New York.
Webb agreed last week to be extradited, unlike six others who are contesting the move, after the United States sent Switzerland requests earlier this month. It is alleged that in return for taking bribes to the tune of more than $100million, the officials awarded contracts for media, marketing and sponsorship rights to football tournaments in the United States and Latin America, routed through American banks.
If found guilty, the men – who are among 14 indicted by the FBI – will face around 20 years in prison.
Webb has been provisionally banned from his posts at FIFA and CONCACAF, the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football. Neither his lawyer nor a U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman responded to requests for comment on Thursday.
The U.S. indictment describes Webb as using his influential positions to solicit bribes from sports marketing companies in exchange for the commercial rights to soccer matches. Six other officials – Eduardo Li, Julio Rocha, Eugenio Figueredo, Rafael Esquivel, Jose Maria Marin and Costas Takkas – remain detained in Switzerland and are contesting their extradition.
|An arrested FIFA official is shielded with a sheet as he is taken from the Baur du Lac hotel on May 27|
|Media gather outside the Hotel Baur-au-Lacon in Zurich on May 27 following the dawn raid against FIFA|
Blatter, 79, has not been implicated in either enquiry and again strongly denied involvement in corruption in his column last week in the in-house publication FIFA Weekly. 'I bear no responsibility for members of a government (the FIFA Executive Committee) I have not myself elected,' he wrote.
'The FIFA President must work with the people allotted him by the confederations. 'I therefore also bear no responsibility whatsoever for the behaviour of these ExCo members on their home turf,' he wrote. An Executive Committee meeting on July 20 will lay down the timetable to determine who will lead the body forward, but sources close to Blatter say he has not ruled out the prospect of going back on his decision to step down.
PROFILES OF THE FIFA OFFICIALS INDICTED IN FBI CORRUPTION PROBE
- Daily Mail