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Corruption scandal Suspect extradited as ‘mafia’ FIFA is blasted in US

Sepp Blatter is due to step down as FIFA president soon

(Keystone)

A football official suspected of corruption has been extradited to the United States, the day after a Senate hearing blasted the “mafia-style crime syndicate in charge of this sport”. 

The unnamed official was among seven who were arrested in Zurich in May on behalf of a US investigation. 

On Wednesday, US Democrat Senator Richard Blumenthal aimed his mafia barb at FIFA, adding that this was “almost insulting to the mafia … because the mafia would never have been so blatant, overt and arrogant in its corruption”.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter had declined to attend the hearing.

“The facts show there had to be either willful ignorance or blatant incompetence on behalf of many of the members of this organisation,” Blumenthal said as he grilled US football chiefs on how much they knew about alleged corruption.

Both the US and Swiss authorities have launched separate criminal investigations into activities at Zurich-based FIFA and regional football bodies. The probe resulted in the arrest of seven suspects at a Zurich hotel in May, one of whom was handed over to three US police officials in Zurich on Wednesday who accompanied him on a flight to New York.

The Swiss probe is specifically looking into the voting procedure for the award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments to Russia and Qatar.

Human rights violations

The Senate sub-committee also looked into the alleged mistreatment of migrant workers building football infrastructure in Qatar ahead of the tournament in 2022.

FIFA’s “culture of corruption is turning a blind eye to significant human rights violations and the tragic loss of lives”, added Republican Senator Jerry Moran.

On Thursday, Transparency International released a report, “Give Back The Game – How to fix FIFA”, which called on outside figures to reform world football’s governing body.

“FIFA is a flawed democracy that needs to be fixed urgently,” the report said. “FIFA needs a truly independent reform commission led by eminent public figures to oversee reform.”

FIFA’s executive committee meets on Monday to set a date for its congress to elect a new president. On June 2, Blatter announced his resignation less than a week into his fifth consecutive term as president. 

swissinfo.ch

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