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Football arrests US requests FIFA extraditions

Those arrested at a Zurich hotel now await extradition proceedings

(Keystone)

The United States has submitted a formal request to Swiss authorities for the extradition of seven FIFA officials arrested in Zurich in May.

Six of the seven officials were arrested by police at an early morning raid at a Zurich hotel prior to the start of the world football organisation’s congress.

An official press release from the Federal Department of Justice said the extradition request was “based on the arrest warrants issued on 20 May 2015 by the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York, which is investigating the high-ranking FIFA officers on suspicion of taking bribes worth over 100 million dollars”.

The statement explained that the US embassy had submitted the requests within the official deadline specified in a bilateral extradition treaty. Zurich police are thus expected to give the officials a hearing on the extradition requests, before granting them an additional 14 days to respond to the request.

A Swiss lawyer representing one of the seven defendants told Reuters he expected the legal process to last until early or mid-August.

Swiss authorities are carrying out a separate investigation on the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.

Last week, one of the arrested officials, widely named in the media as Eugenio Figueredo, had his bail requested denied by the Swiss Federal Criminal Court.

Zurich stresses "positive performances"

Amid the current corruption scandal, canton Zurich issued a statement on Thursday reaffirming the importance of FIFA for the city and region and FIFA’s “positive performances”. 

FIFA has based its headquarters in Zurich since 1932. It currently employs around 470 people. Governed by Swiss law, it has non-profit association status, similar to a yodeling association. As a non-profit it pays a far lower tax bill than private-sector firms. 

The statement said FIFA’s congresses and events had considerable impact particular in terms of visitors to Zurich and Switzerland. It also stressed the organisation’s “considerable” tax contribution. 

According to FIFA’s 2014 annual report, the federation earned more than $2 billion in revenue in 2014 while its cash reserves rose to $1.52 billion. Operating costs over the 2011-2014 period were $861 million, including $397 million on personnel. It paid $75 million in taxes and duties and $145 million was spent on "other" operating expenses which included travel and logistics.

Recent figures showed that average pay and pension contributions for FIFA staff at Zurich-based FIFA was $242,000 per employee last year.

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swissinfo.ch and agencies

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