Two Top FIFA Officials Arrested On Suspicion Of Taking “Millions Of Dollars” In Bribes

Alfredo Hawit and Juan Angel Napout — two high-ranking Latin American officials — were detained in dawn raids in Zurich Thursday.

The FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, Oct. 20. Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty Images

Two top FIFA officials have been arrested in dawn raids in Zurich, Switzerland, Thursday morning on suspicion of taking “millions of dollars” in bribes related to marketing rights for Latin American soccer tournaments, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice said in a statement.

Later Thursday, the department revealed in another statement that the two officials were Alfredo Hawit — the Honduran president of Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) and a FIFA vice-president; and Juan Angel Napout — the Paraguayan president of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL), who is also a FIFA official.

They were arrested at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice, who are carrying out an investigation into corruption at world soccer’s governing body.

The statement said:

The two FIFA officials were arrested by the Zurich cantonal police today in Zurich. The detention orders issued by the FOJ are based on arrest requests submitted by the United States Department of Justice on 29 November 2015. In the light of further investigations conducted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, these individuals are now also suspected of having received bribes. 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. According to the arrest requests, some of the offences were agreed and prepared in the USA. Payments were also processed via U.S. banks.

The arrests took place at the Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich, where other FIFA officials were arrested in May, the New York Times reported. FIFA officials are convening in the city to vote on reforms to the scandal-hit organization.

In response to the arrests, FIFA released a statement saying it would “cooperate fully” with the investigation, the BBC reported:

FIFA became aware of the actions taken today by the U.S. Department of Justice.

FIFA will continue to co-operate fully with the U.S. 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.

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