Soccer bosses from across South and Central America are among 16 people charged by US prosecutors with multimillion-dollar bribery schemes for marketing and broadcast rights to tournaments and matches.
Court documents on Thursday showed that the heads of the CONMEBOL and CONCACAF associations running soccer in the Western Hemisphere were charged along with current and former chiefs of the Brazil Football Confederation (CBF), which hosted the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals.
CONCACAF acting president Alfredo Hawit of Honduras, a vice president of world soccer’s governing body FIFA, and CONMEBOL head Juan Angel Napout of Paraguay were arrested in a pre-dawn raid by Swiss police at a hotel in Zurich near the headquarters of FIFA, which has been in turmoil since a first round of indictments and arrests last May.
The new indictment identified Brazil Football Confederation chief Marco Polo del Nero and former CBF head Ricardo Teixeira in the list of defendants, both former FIFA executive committee members.
Teixeira is the former son-in-law of longtime FIFA president Joao Havelange.
In 2012, Swiss prosecutors said Teixeira and Havelange took millions of dollars in bribes in the awarding of marketing rights for World Cup finals tournaments.
“Two generations of soccer officials abused their positions of trust for personal gain, frequently through an alliance of unscrupulous sports marketing executives who shut out competitors and kept highly lucrative contracts for themselves through the systematic payment of bribes and kickbacks,” the US Department of Justice said in a statement.
It said 27 people in all have been charged since May, accused of running schemes designed to solicit and receive more than $US270 million ($A370 million) in bribes and kickbacks to sell media and marketing rights for soccer tournaments and matches.
Ironically, a FIFA executive committee approval of a package of reforms in Zurich to clean up the scandalised organisation was overshadowed by the arrests and new charges.
The former head of Panama’s federation, Ariel Alvarado, was among those charged, according to the indictment.
Argentine nationals Jose Luis Meiszner and Eduardo Deluca, current and former secretary generals of South America’s confederation, were also charged.