Sports News

Ex-South America soccer boss deported to U.S. from Switzerland

Rafael Esquivel, Venezuela's national soccer federation president, attends a news conference in Caracas May 10, 2012. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

ZURICH (Reuters) - A former South American soccer boss was handed over to U.S. authorities for extradition to the United States on Monday to face corruption charges as part of a broader scandal shaking world soccer body FIFA.

Two U.S. law enforcement officers escorted Rafael Esquivel, a former president of the Venezuelan Football Federation and vice president of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL), to an aircraft in Zurich for a flight to New York.

Esquivel is accused by the U.S. Department of Justice of receiving bribes worth millions of dollars in connection with the sale of marketing rights to the Copa America tournaments in 2007, 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2023.

Esquivel was arrested in Zurich last May along with six other officials from FIFA on a U.S. warrant.

Since then, more high-ranking soccer officials have been indicted in a sweeping U.S. investigation alleging kickback and bribery schemes related to the marketing of the sport. Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter has been suspended from the sport for six years.

Esquivel originally fought extradition but late last month withdrew his appeal to Switzerland’s high court and asked to be extradited as soon as possible, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice said in a statement on Monday.

Reporting by John Miller; editing by Ralph Boulton