Swiss authorities make more arrests in Fifa corruption probe

Swiss authorities confirm they have made a new round of arrests at the request of U.S. authorities in the Fifa corruption scandal, some of them at the same Zurich hotel where the first arrests took place in May.

The New York Times first reported Thursday that more than a dozen people were expected to face charges after the latest arrests at the Baur au Lac hotel. The Times reported that several of the officials were from South and Central America and were suspected of involvement in racketeering, money laundering, and fraud.

The report named Alfredo Hawit of Honduras, president of Concacaf, the governing body for soccer in North America, Central America and the Caribbean, and Juan Angel Napout of Paraguay, president of South American soccer’s Conmebol governing body, as among those arrested.  Swiss officials indicate the United States suspects the men of accepting bribes in the millions of dollars.

Fifa has commented only that it is “aware of the actions taken today” by the U.S. Department of Justice. The U.S. government agency was also responsible for the first set of arrests. The Justice Department says it can make those arrests because Fifa officials used U.S. banks in their transactions.

Fifa officials were gathered at the hotel Thursday to discuss proposals aimed at reforming soccer’s governing body after long-term allegations of corruption that culminated in criminal investigations by the United States and Switzerland.

On November 18, suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter and European football chief Michel Platini lost their appeals against provisional 90-days bans by the FIFA ethics committee.

The provisional ban stops Platini from working as Uefa president and halted his candidacy for the Fifa election on February 26. Blatter is also barred from his FIFA presidential office after 17 years.

Platini’s lawyers quickly criticized a “uniquely one-sided, unjust and biased” investigation against him. Blatter and Platini were suspended in October, engulfed by the deepening corruption scandal.


(Photo: Roosewelt Pinheiro/Abr – Agência Brasil)