QCOSTARICA – It was on May 27 when Costa Rican Eduardo Li was one 14 arrested in Switzerland in an international racketeering and bribery investigation shook world soccer. Three months later, just three defendants are currently before the U.S. courts.
The other 11 still face extradition, either from Switzerland or their home countries, in connection with the investigation by a number of U.S. federal agencies, alleging that FIFA officials accepted bribes in exchange for the award of commercialization rights for certain soccer tournaments to certain sports marketing companies in the U.S. and in South America.
In the case of Costa Rica’s Eduardo Li, who has refused voluntary extradition to the United States, and four others, Eugenio Figueredo of Uruguay, Rafael Esquivel of Venezuela and Jose Maria Marin of Brazil, the Swiss Justice Department on Monday said it will study the U.S. request for the extradition of Li and the other former FIFA offcials, and expected to rule in September on the various extradition requests.
At least one other defendant, Julio Rocha of Nicaragua, has asked to be returned to his home country where he is also facing separate criminal charges of using his public office to solicit bribes. Swiss authorities have said they will weigh the U.S. extradition request against the Nicaraguan case before determining Rocha’s destination.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Evan Norris said earlier this month that there are ongoing extradition requests being handled via the lawyers for the other FIFA defendants. He did not go into specifics regarding what stages those requests had reached during a court appearance in the case on Aug. 14.
Prosecutors allege the defendants plotted to arrange bribes of more than US$150 million – tied to the awarding of broadcasting and hosting rights for the World Cup and other tournaments – over a 24-year period.