Football: Top Fifa officials among 16 more indicted by US

Lynch (right) said the scale of the alleged corruption was "unconscionable".
Lynch (right) said the scale of the alleged corruption was "unconscionable".PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Several senior Fifa officials from the past or present were among 16 more people indicted by US authorities on Thursday, as the corruption scandal rocking football's governing body widened.

The indictments were announced by the United States Justice Department in Washington after another series of dramatic dawn raids at a luxury hotel in Zurich where top Fifa officials had gathered.

The two men arrested on Thursday were the president of the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol), Juan Angel Napout, and Alfredo Hawit, head of the North, Central American and Caribbean ruling body (Concacaf).

Other notable officials indicted include Ricardo Teixeira, the once-powerful former head of the Brazilian Football Confederation and a former Fifa vice-president.

"The scale of corruption alleged is unconscionable," US Attorney-General Loretta Lynch told a briefing in Washington.

"The message of this announcement should be clear to every culpable individual who remains in the shadows, hoping to evade this ongoing investigation. You will not wait it out and you will not escape our focus," she added.

 
 

Lynch said eight more people indicted since authorities launched an earlier wave of Fifa raids in Switzerland in May had now pleaded guilty.

"I can report eight additional defendants have agreed to plead guilty for their involvement in the corruption scheme," she said.

Napout and Hawit are both in Switzerland where they are now fighting extradition to the United States, the Swiss justice ministry said earlier.

Both men are suspected of taking millions of dollars in bribes in return for selling marketing rights for regional tournaments and World Cup qualifying matches, according to the US indictment.

Lynch, meanwhile, dismissed claims by Fifa's suspended President Sepp Blatter that the US investigation was triggered by sour grapes over the country's failed bid for the 2022 World Cup, controversially awarded to Qatar in a 2010 vote.

"I think (Blatter) is well aware of the nature of our charges," Lynch said.

"This covers years of conduct by dozens and dozens of people from the past into the future. I called it outrageous and unconscionable. That still stands."