FIFA Officials Added To Interpol's Most Wanted List As Soccer Scandal Grows Larger
International law-enforcement agency Interpol issued wanted persons alerts for accused FIFA officials and corporate executives on Wednesday, a day after the soccer organization's president, Sepp Blatter, announced his anticipated resignation. The wanted persons alerts came at the request of U.S. authorities, who are currently leading the charge against FIFA officials and several sports executives. The Department of Justice has indicted nine FIFA officials so far, as well as five businessmen, on charges of racketeering, conspiracy and corruption in what prosecutors say amounted to a 24-year scheme that made $150 million for FIFA officials.
The international policing agency posted online mugshots of the six wanted FIFA officials and corporate executives alongside Wednesday's alert. Interpol's red alerts notify member nations the international community that arrest warrants have been issued by a country; however, red alerts themselves are not arrest warrants, and Interpol can't force a nation to make an arrest of a wanted person.
"The individuals concerned are wanted by national jurisdictions and INTERPOL's role is to assist national police forces in identifying or locating those individuals with a view to their arrest and extradition," Interpol said in a statement.
The wanted persons include:
- Jack Warner of Trinidad & Tobago. Former FIFA vice president and executive committee member, and president of CONCACAF.
- Nicolás Leoz of Paraguay. Former FIFA executive committee member and CONMEBOL president.
- Alejandro Burzaco of Argentina. Controlling principal of sports marketing business Torneos y Competencias S.A.
- Hugo Jinkis of Argentina. Controlling principal of Full Play Group S.A.
- Mariano Jinkis of Argentina. Controlling principal of Full Play Group S.A.
- José Margulies of Brazil. Controlling principal of Valente Corp. and Somerton Ltd.
Along with the mugshots, Interpol released individual forms listing the ages and descriptions of the wanted persons and the charges alleged against them. The agency is asking individuals with information about their whereabouts to contact Interpol directly.
The individual red alerts also note that the two FIFA officials and four corporate executives are wanted by the United States for prosecution. Below are the two red alerts for Jack Warner and Nicolás Leoz, two former FIFA officials who were indicted by the Department of Justice last week.
The most wanted persons alert is the latest development in the growing international scandal that has rocked the sports community and effectively dismantled the credibility of FIFA, which overseas the World Cup and the Women's World Cup. So far, nine high-ranking FIFA officials, including Warner and Leoz, have been indicted by the U.S. government. Five business executives were also indicted last week, and six other defendants have entered into plea deals, the DOJ said.
“The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said when the charges were announced.
When the massive indictment was handed down last week, FIFA president Sepp Blatter was noticeably missing. But in the days ahead, the investigation inched closer to FIFA's top-ranking official. On Monday, prosecutors revealed that Blatter's second-in-command, Jérôme Valcke, may have had knowledge about a $10 million payment made from South African officials to Warner, believed to be a bribe for a World Cup bid. FIFA issued a statement Tuesday denying the allegation and Valcke's involvement.
But shortly after Blatter formally resigned from his post on Tuesday, unnamed federal officials confirmed that Blatter has now become part of the ongoing corruption inquiry, The New York Times reported. However, no charges have been brought against Blatter at this time, and the disgraced FIFA president reportedly showed up to work Wednesday morning.
Blatter will remain in his position until an extraordinary congress of FIFA members holds a reelection, which could come as early as December 2015. In the meantime, Blatter said Tuesday he will work on reforming FIFA, the organization he has overseen for the last 17 years.
“It is my deep care for FIFA and its interests, which I hold very dear, that has led me to take this decision [to resign]," Blatter said. "What matters to me more than anything is that when all of this is over, football is the winner.”
Images: Interpol, Getty Images (1)