KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Swiss authorities have said that one of the seven men arrested in Zurich in the FIFAgate scandal has been despatched to the United States after deciding not to contest an extradition application.
The man is believed to be Jeffrey Webb, former president of CONCACAF, the caribbean, central and north American football confederation.
Webb, a Cayman Islands banker, was also a vice-president of world federation FIFA and high-profile head of its anti-discrimnation task force. He also faces charges in the Cayman Islands over a healthcare fraud scandal.
He was delivered by Swiss security officials to a three-man US police delegation escort in Zurich yesterday and accompanied on a flight to New York after having agreed last week not to contest the application.
Webb has been accused of “accepting bribes totalling millions of dollars in connection with the sale of marketing rights to various sports marketing firms and keeping the money for himself.”
A statement from the Swiss Federal Office of Justice read: “The first of the seven FIFA officials being held in custody in Switzerland was extradited to the U.S. on 15 July.”
The other six men arrested in Zurich two days before FIFA Congress in Zurich in May are contesting extradition and are being held separately in four prisons around Zurich.
The six, who have all been suspended from football, are: Eduardo Li (Costa Rica), Julio Rocha (Nicaragua), Costas Takkas (former aide to Webb), Eugenio Figueredo (Uruguay), Rafael Esquivel (Venezuela) and Jose Maria Marin (Brazil).
Marin (former Brazilian CBF president) and Figueredo (ex-president of the South American confederation CONMEBOL), have failed in pleas to be released to house arrest on health grounds.
Hours after Webb’s extradition a US Senate sports sub-committee hearing into world football corruption also cast sceptical eyes over the position of the US Soccer Federation.
Democrat Senator Richard Blumenthal said: “The facts show there had to be either wilful ignorance or blatant incompetence on behalf of many of the members of this [FIFA][ organization – that’s true of US Soccer as well.”
His perception was that “a mafia-style crime syndicate [is] in charge of this sport.” Blumenthal then qualified his comment more damningly by describing it as “almost insulting to the Mafia … because the Mafia would never have been so blatant, overt and arrogant in its corruption.”
FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who is keeping well away from North America as demonstrated by his recent refusal to attend the Women’s World Cup in neighbouring Canada, had declined an invitation to appear before the hearing. So had USSF president Sunil Gulati, a member of the FIFA exco.