Prosecutor seeks extradition of more FIFA defendants

NEW YORK (AP) Lawyers for top soccer officials detained overseas in the FIFA bribery scandal are negotiating with U.S. authorities over coming to the United States to face racketeering and other charges, a prosecutor said Friday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Evan Norris told a judge in federal court in Brooklyn that there are ongoing extradition negotiations ”with counsel of a number of other defendants” in a case that sent shockwaves through the soccer world. Norris didn’t go into specifics and had no comment afterward.

The remarks came during a brief pretrial hearing for Jeffrey Webb, one of seven FIFA officials detained overseas in Switzerland last spring. So far, Webb is the only official to agree to come to the United States, where he pleaded not guilty last month and was released on $10 million bond.

A total of 14 men – nine soccer officials and five marketing executives – were named in the U.S. indictment, including former FIFA vice president Jack Warner, who is resisting extradition from Trinidad and Tobago. The revelations prompted FIFA president Sepp Blatter to resign within days of the arrests.

Prosecutors allege the defendants plotted to arrange bribes of more than $150 million – tied to the awarding of broadcasting and hosting rights for the World Cup and other tournaments – over a 24-year period. Two of the marketing executives have pleaded not guilty.

Webb, 50, who is from the Cayman Islands, had promised reform when he was elected in 2012 to succeed Warner as president of CONCACAF, the regional governing body for soccer in North America, Central America and the Caribbean. After the indictment was announced, he received a provisional ban and was replaced as the FIFA vice president from the North and Central American and Caribbean region.

The indictment accuses Webb of soliciting a $2 million bribe in exchange for marketing rights for the 2013 Gold Cup tournament. It says the marketing executive was overheard telling an unnamed co-conspirator who helped negotiate the deal: ”Is it illegal? It is illegal.”

Webb and his attorney left court Friday without speaking to reporters. He was ordered to return to court on Oct. 9.