FIFA vice-presidents Alfredo Hawit and Juan Angel Napout have been arrested in another pre-dawn raid of the Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich on suspicion “of accepting bribes of millions of dollars,” the Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) has announced.
The luxury establishment used by FIFA officials was swooped upon for the second time this year, with interim CONCACAF president Hawit of Honduras and CONMEBOL chief Napout of Paraguay detained on orders issued by the FOJ on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice.
The FOJ confirmed in a further statement on Thursday that the pair are both opposing extradition to the U.S.
Suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter has not been arrested as part of this latest raid.
A statement from the FOJ said: “On the instructions of the Federal Office of Justice (FOJ), a further two FIFA officials were arrested in Zurich today. They are being held in custody pending their extradition. According to the US arrest requests, they are suspected of accepting bribes of millions of dollars.
“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.”
FIFA has acknowledged the latest controversy, saying in a statement: “FIFA became aware of the actions taken today by the US Department of Justice. FIFA will continue to co-operate 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 governing body’s executive committee is currently midway through a two-day meeting.
Hawit was appointed interim president of CONCACAF, the confederation of countries from North and Central America and the Caribbean, after his predecessor Jeffrey Webb was arrested in a similar raid in May. Napout is the president of CONMEBOL, the South American confederation.
CONCACAF released a statement on Thursday saying that it “continues to cooperate with all government authorities in their investigations” before adding: “Today’s developments only strengthen the confederation’s resolve in continuing to enact significant structural and governance changes to the organisation, including substantial amendments to its statutes and fundamentally changing how it conducts business.”
The FIFA corruption scandal first broke in May when seven officials, including Webb, were arrested by Swiss authorities on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice, plunging football’s world governing body into meltdown.
Authorities in Switzerland and in the U.S. are investigating current and former senior football officials on charges that include racketeering, money laundering and fraud.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.