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FIFA Scandal Widens To Include Former Head Of State

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JP Carroll National Security & Foreign Affairs Reporter
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The FIFA corruption investigation widened to include a former head of state Thursday, as U.S. authorities put in an extradition request for former Honduran President Rafael Callejas.

Callejas served as President of Honduras from 1990 to 1994. Callejas was just one of 16 current and former FIFA officials who were indicted by the US for bribery and kickbacks worth millions.  The latest string of indictments has focused on FIFA officials with ties to Latin America and has essentially done away with the region’s high level professional soccer executives.

FIFA has been in a state of turmoil since certain officials were arrested toward the end of May and then in June, US authorities indicted several senior FIFA officials.  In spite of the raid conducted in May, Blatter was reelected as FIFA President just a couple of days later to the shock and anger of respected senior sports journalists worldwide. The embattled Blatter at the time held a combative press conference in which he stood his ground.  Swiss authorities subsequently announced an investigation into FIFA President Sepp Blatter and other senior organization officials. Due to the ongoing criminal investigation into Sepp Blatter, FIFA suspended him as the governing body’s president in October.

According to the Department of Justice, hundreds of millions of dollars have changed hands over the course of 25 years among senior level FIFA officials. The financial transactions made to facilitate such wide scale bribery and corruption allegedly involved U.S. banks as well as several gatherings of conspirators in the US.  According to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, “the scale of alleged corruption is unconscionable’.  Increasing legal scrutiny directed towards FIFA has allegedly led to unprecedented legal costs that may have led the organization to suffer a $100 million loss in 2015.

The government of Honduras has confirmed having received the extradition request of former President Callejas while Callejas’ lawyers have stated they are looking into the matter for their client and figuring out their options. Relations between the government of Honduras and the Obama Administration have been uneasy ever since the President declared the ousting of former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya from office a ‘coup’.

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