Swiss approve extraditing Esquivel to U.S. in soccer probe

Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:42am EDT
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ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss authorities have approved the extradition of Venezuelan soccer official Rafael Esquivel to the United States as part of an investigation into suspected corruption in soccer, the government said on Wednesday.

The former president of the Venezuelan Football Federation and member of the executive committee of the South American Football Confederation was arrested in Zurich in May along with six other officials from world soccer body FIFA on a U.S. warrant.

He has 30 days to appeal against the decision by the Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) to allow extradition, the FOJ said in a statement.

The U.S. indictment accuses Esquivel 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, the federal office said.

Of the seven officials detained in May, former FIFA Vice President Jeffrey Webb agreed in July to be extradited to New York. He pleaded not guilty and was released on bail.

Switzerland last week agreed to send Uruguayan citizen Eugenio Figueredo to the United States as part of the probe. Figueredo has given notice that he will appeal against the decision, a federal office spokeswoman said.

(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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