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Fifa arrests: Two Fifa vice-presidents detained at Zurich hotel

Two Fifa vice-presidents have been arrested in a dawn raid at a Swiss hotel on suspicion of accepting millions of dollars of bribes.

Concacaf president Alfredo Hawit and Conmebol president Juan Angel Napout were taken from the Baur au Lac hotel, Zurich, where several Fifa officials were also arrested in May.

Fifa’s executive committee has been meeting in the city, voting on reforms.

It says it will “fully co-operate” with separate US and Swiss investigations.

The US Department of Justice requested Thursday morning’s arrests as part of its ongoing investigation into corruption in football’s world governing body.

Hawit, 64, is interim president for North, Central America and Caribbean football, while Napout, 57, oversees football in the South American confederation.

They are alleged to have taken money for selling marketing rights in connection with football tournaments in Latin America, as well as World Cup qualifying matches, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FoJ) said.

“According to the US arrest requests, they are suspected of accepting bribes of millions of dollars,” it said, adding that the pair had opposed their extradition to the United States at a hearing earlier.

Fifa’s reform committee chairman, Francois Carrard, said at a news conference in Zurich the arrests were “a very important step” as part of changes “so Fifa can renew itself”.

Speaking after a series of reforms were approved to improve transparency, limit terms for senior officials and get more women involved at a higher level, he added: “Fifa is going through a major crisis – a crisis is a unique opportunity for change, for renewal.”

In May, seven Fifa officials, including another two vice-presidents, were arrested at the same Zurich hotel at the request of US authorities, as the governing body became engulfed by claims of widespread wrongdoing.

A Swiss criminal investigation into the bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups was also launched earlier this year, alongside the US inquiry.

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Fifa corruption inquiries: What else is going on?

Fifa president Sepp Blatter, 79, and Uefa counterpart Michel Platini, 60, a Fifa vice-president, are suspended for 90 days after the Swiss attorney general opened criminal proceedings against Blatter.

Fifa suspended the pair in October while Fifa’s ethics committee investigates corruption claims against them. Both deny wrongdoing.

Shortly after the seven Fifa arrests in May, Blatter announced he would step down as president in February 2016 after 17 years in charge, despite having been re-elected the previous week.

The seven arrested in Zurich were among a total of 14 people – nine Fifa officials and five sports and broadcast marketing executives – indicted by US prosecutors that month on corruption charges. Four other men made guilty pleas.

Two of the Fifa officials from May’s Zurich arrests – the then Concacaf president and Fifa vice-president Jeffrey Webb, and the former head of Brazilian football Jose Maria Marin – did not contest their extradition from Switzerland to the US to face charges.

The other five opposed extradition and are awaiting appeals against the move.

They were taken to a garage at the hotel and driven away in police cars

They were taken to a garage at the hotel and driven away in police cars

The arrests were made at the same Zurich hotel where Fifa officials were detained in May

The arrests were made at the same Zurich hotel where Fifa officials were detained in May

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Source: BBC, Reuters

Edit: Valentine Ohu

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