ZURICH (Reuters) - The head of soccer’s governing body for North and Central America and the Caribbean, Enrique Sanz, has been fired following the FBI investigation into alleged corruption in FIFA, his lawyer said on Friday.
The regional body, known as CONCACAF, had put Sanz on “indefinite leave” from his job as general secretary following the indictment on corruption charges of the body’s president Jeffrey Webb in May. Sanz was also “provisionally suspended” from all football-related activities by FIFA in June.
“I received a letter earlier this week from outside counsel for CONCACAF informing me that Mr. Sanz was being terminated effective August 3,” Joseph DeMaria, Sanz’s lawyer told Reuters in an email.
Sanz is the second CONCACAF general secretary to depart amid corruption allegations. His predecessor Chuck Blazer, who held the position from 1990 until 2011, was banned from football for life by FIFA last month after he pleaded guilty to various corruption-related charges.
Through a 2013 U.S. plea agreement, Blazer become a cooperating witness in the U.S. probe, which has engulfed FIFA and pressured the governing body’s President, Sepp Blatter, to step down from February next year.
In March 2014, CONCACAF announced that Sanz had been diagnosed with leukaemia. “Mr. Sanz‘s primary focus right now is his health,” said DeMaria.
“My job right now is to protect his access to health insurance, which is vital for any person who is suffering from potentially terminal cancer. I am sure that the rest of his contract rights will be resolved in due course,” DeMaria added.
Sources told Reuters on Friday that FIFA is now conducting an internal inquiry into the corruption allegations.
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, a U.S. law firm, is conducting the investigation, which is running parallel to the criminal probes by authorities in the United States and Switzerland, the sources said. The results of the investigation are expected to be shared with the authorities, they added.
Sanz has not been charged by the U.S. authorities but the indictment issued by federal prosecutors in May said that “Co-Conspirator #4” was appointed CONCACAF’s general secretary in July 2012, after serving as vice president of Traffic USA, a sports marketing company - biographical detail which match Sanz’s career moves.
Traffic Sports and CONCACAF feature heavily in the indictment which includes reference to several television rights deals and allegations of kickbacks and bribes worth more than $150 million.
Traffic Sports USA’s President Aaron Davidson was among the 14 soccer officials and executives who were indicted in late May on bribery, money laundering and wire fraud charges.
In July, CONCACAF announced that it had ended it’s “corporate partnership” with Traffic Sports.
In the absence of Webb, who has pleaded not guilty to U.S. charges of racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering, CONCACAF is being run by a special committee.
American Ted Howard, who was Sanz’s deputy, is currently the body’s acting general secretary.
FIFA has yet to announce the 11 members of a new reform task force that is being created to deal with the aftermath of the corruption scandal but on Friday several names began to emerge.
A source close to CONCACAF, said it was nominating U.S. lawyer Samir Ghandi and Canadian Soccer Association president Victor Montagliani.
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Martin Howell