FIFA scandal: Blatter likely to field more questions today on $10m SA bribe

The wheels of justice grind slowly. But that’s all part of the process to ensure wrongdoers don’t slip off the hook. Wriggle as they might, there is unlikely to be any last minute rescue for those exposed in FIFA’s expanding can of worms. Among the core issues is a $10m bribe which South Africa paid to secure hosting of the 2010 World Cup. It is sure to be raised once more when long-entrenched president Sepp Blatter hosts one of his final press conferences today. With the central characters in that part of the scandal not yet named, a nation awaits with considerable expectation. – Alec Hogg

FIFA_Sepp_Blatter

by Eric Bernaudeau and Ben Simon of Agence France-Presse

FIFA president Sepp Blatter is set to face the media today, as the scandals that surround him widen at a seemingly relentless pace.

On Thursday, Switzerland’s Attorney General Michael Lauber’s office said FIFA had agreed to hand over the emails of suspended secretary general Jerome Valcke, evidence Lauber had demanded as part of an investigation into World Cup bidding.

FIFA said only that it “fully supports” the Swiss investigation and had cooperated with the attorney general since his inquiry was launched in May.

A week before FIFA agreed to the email release, football’s governing body put the Frenchman on indefinite leave over accusations he agreed to let World Cup tickets be sold at vastly inflated prices. Valcke, who had been Blatter’s right-hand man, fiercely denies the allegations. Aside from a possible black market ticket scheme, Valcke had already been implicated in an alleged $10 million bribe payment reportedly made by South Africa in connection with its hosting of the 2010 World Cup.

Read also: Extradited FIFA executive holding key to SA $10m bribe turns State witness

The Swiss investigation is focused on whether bribes were paid during bidding for 2018 and 2022 tournaments — awarded to Russia and Qatar, respectively. If clear evidence of misconduct emerges, both countries could be stripped of their hosting rights, FIFA officials have said. Three days before Valcke was suspended, Lauber and his US counterpart Loretta Lynch made clear that their investigations were nowhere near complete. Lauber said assets, including flats in the Swiss Alps, had been seized in the probe which he described as “not yet near half-time.” Speaking alongside Lauber in Zurich, FIFA’s home, Lynch said her case had also expanded since May, when the US indicted 14 people — nine FIFA officials and five sports marketing executives — over bribery worth more than $150 million (134 million euros) dating back to 1991.

Lynch told reporters that more individuals and entities were likely to be charged.

Seven of the people indicted by Lynch were arrested in a dawn raid in Zurich in May.

One, ex-FIFA vice president Jeffrey Webb of the Cayman Islands, agreed to extradition and was sent the US.

The other six challenged a transfer to American jurisdiction, but one by one they appear to be losing those fights.

Last week, the Swiss justice ministry approved the extradition of Rafael Esquivel of Venezuela and Uruguay’s Eugenio Figueredo, both former top officials within world football.

Decision on the extradition requests for the remaining four suspects are expected in the coming days.

Blatter’s press conference at 2:00 pm may also prove to be one of his last, as the embattled FIFA president has agreed to step down following a special election in February.

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