BERN: Switzerland’s Federal Office of Justice has rejected a plea from Julio Rocha – one of the Zurich Seven – to be extradited to his home country of Nicaragua rather than the United States writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Instead the department has ruled that the ex-president of the Nicaraguan federation (FENIFUT) should be extradited to the US as its Department of Justice has requested.

Rocha, who was among senior football and FIFA-linked officials detained in Zurich on May 27, can submit notice of appeal with five days and a formal application within 30 days.

According to a statement from the FOJ: “Rocha is accused of having demanded and accepted for himself and another football functionary bribes totalling $150,000 in the sale of marketing rights from FENIFUT to a US sports marketing company for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.”

The FOJ ruled that Rocha had “massively influenced the competition by accepting bribes for awarding sports marketing contracts and distorted the market for media rights related to the World Cup qualifiers. Other sports marketing companies have been discriminated against.

“Moreover, the affected football association has been prevented from negotiating more favourable marketing contracts. In Switzerland, this behaviour would constitute an offence concerning unfair competition.”

Nicaragua claim

On August 10 Nicaragua had asked Switzerland to extradite Rocha fro similar offences – to which Rocha had agreed.

However the US DoJ objected and was awarded priority by the FOJ on the ground that “the US authorities were undertaking long-standing and extensive criminal proceedings against numerous individuals who are already in the United States or to be delivered to that state.”

So far the Swiss authorities have approved extradition applications for Eugenio Figueredo, a former FIFA vice-president and ex-president of South American confederation CONMEBOL, former FIFA exco member Eduardo Li (Costa Rica), Rafael Esquivel (Venezuela) and Costas Takkas (former aide to Jeffrey Webb, ex-president of CONCACAF).

Webb had already accepted extradition and is now on bail under house arrest in the US.

A last decision is awaited on the extradition of Jose Maria Marin, former president of the Brazilian federation.