Switzerland approved the extradition of former FIFA Vice President Eugenio Figueredo to the United States on corruption charges as part of a sweeping investigation into accusations of decades-long criminal activity by senior football officials.
Figueredo, who also briefly led South America’s football confederation, has been unable to leave Switzerland since May 27, when authorities carried out early morning raids on a luxury hotel on behalf of the U.S. He was one of seven football officials arrested. Also arrested that day was Eduardo Li, a FIFA executive committee member from Costa Rica. Li’s extradition request by the U.S. is still pending.
Figueredo, an 83-year-old from Uruguay, has 30 days to appeal his extradition, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice said today on its website.
“Figueredo is accused of receiving bribes worth millions of dollars from a Uruguayan sports marketing company in connection with the sale of marketing rights to the Copa America tournaments in 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2023,” the Federal Office of Justice said.
FIFA corruption probe widening
The case has created an unprecedented crisis at FIFA, forcing President Joseph “Sepp” Blatter to say he would step down just four days after being re-elected to a fifth term. His successor will be chosen on Feb. 26, when the organization’s 209 member nations will be asked to vote on new corporate governance reforms.
Figueredo is the first official to have his extradition status decided. Jeffrey Webb, another former vice president and the ex-head of the north and central American football body, agreed to be transferred to the U.S. in July. Five others, including Li, are awaiting decisions.
As well as the crimes related to his years as a football official, Figueredo is also accused of falsifying medical records in order to get U.S. citizenship. He’s alleged to have claimed to be suffering from severe dementia to avoid a citizenship test.
On Monday, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said more individuals and entities may be charged as her department’s investigation into football corruption has widened. Nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives have been charged so far.
Switzerland is conducting a separate investigation into alleged wrongdoing as part of the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments to Russia and Qatar.
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