Newspaper article International New York Times

FIFA Corruption Case Brings a New Wave of Arrests ; Charges Come as Officials Were Gathering to Vote on Reform Measures

Newspaper article International New York Times

FIFA Corruption Case Brings a New Wave of Arrests ; Charges Come as Officials Were Gathering to Vote on Reform Measures

Article excerpt

More than a dozen people are expected to be charged, including several South and Central American soccer leaders.

The Swiss authorities began a new series of predawn arrests Thursday in the broad investigation, led by United States officials, into corruption in international soccer. More than a dozen people were expected to be charged, law enforcement officials said, nearly doubling the size of an already huge case that has upended FIFA, soccer's multibillion-dollar governing body.

Some of the arrests took place at the same luxury hotel where other FIFA officials were arrested in May. The Swiss police entered the hotel, the Baur au Lac, through a side door at 6 a.m. local time. A hotel manager told visitors in the lobby they had to leave the property because of "an extreme situation."

The police were targeting current and former senior soccer officials on charges that include racketeering, money laundering and fraud, the authorities said. The new charges were expected to hit South and Central American soccer leaders particularly hard, the officials said.

Alfredo Hawit of Honduras and Juan Angel Napout of Paraguay were charged, multiple people familiar with the investigation said. Mr. Hawit heads Concacaf, the regional confederation that includes North and Central America and the Caribbean. Mr. Napout is president of Conmebol, the South American confederation. Both are FIFA vice presidents and members of the executive committee.

The arrests, coming as FIFA's leaders gathered in Zurich, served as a high-profile reminder that despite the organization's promises of reform, the sport's top officials remained under intense legal scrutiny by the investigation.

"FIFA became aware of the actions taken today by the U.S. Department of Justice," FIFA said in a statement. "FIFA will continue to cooperate fully with the U.S. investigation as permitted by Swiss law, as well as with the investigation being led by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General."

The full roster of people charged Thursday morning was not immediately clear. Law enforcement officials said the list did not include Sepp Blatter, FIFA's longtime president, or Jerome Valcke, his suspended deputy. …

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