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FIFA Updates: Interpol Targets Officials, And South Africa Denies Bribing

Interpol issued alerts for six people who have been indicted by the U.S. in an inquiry into corruption in FIFA's dealings.
Interpol issued alerts for six people who have been indicted by the U.S. in an inquiry into corruption in FIFA's dealings.

One day after FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced his resignation, Interpol has issued "red notices" for two former senior FIFA officials and several executives who were indicted on U.S. criminal charges. And South Africa has denied that it issued millions in bribes related to the 2010 World Cup.

Blatter will remain FIFA's leader for months; the organization says a new election could be held "anytime from December of this year to March of next year."

Interpol says six people are wanted for arrest by the U.S. Justice Department — but the agency also clarifies that its red notices aren't equal to international arrest warrants.

Red notices were issued for (descriptions from Interpol):

  • Jack Warner, Trinidad and Tobago national, former FIFA vice president and executive committee member, CONCACAF president, Caribbean Football Union president and Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) special adviser.
  • Nicolás Leoz, Paraguayan national, former FIFA executive committee member and South American Football Confederation president.
  • Alejandro Burzaco, Argentine national, controlling principal of Torneos y Competencias S.A., a sports marketing business based in Argentina, and its affiliates.
  • Hugo Jinkis and Mariano Jinkis, Argentine nationals, controlling principals of Full Play Group S.A., a sports marketing business based in Argentina, and its affiliates.
  • José Margulies (also known as José Lazaro), Brazilian national, controlling principal of Valente Corp. and Somerton Ltd., broadcasting businesses.
  • The United States and Switzerland are conducting separate criminal investigations into soccer's governing body for charges that include bribery, money laundering and racketeering.

    Blatter's resignation Tuesday, just days after he had been elected to a fifth term as FIFA's president, fed speculation that law enforcement agencies are working toward tying the embattled leader to millions of dollars' worth of bribes. His announcement came hours after The New York Times reported that U.S. officials have linked Blatter's top lieutenant, Jerome Valcke, to a $10 million payment that is suspected of being a bribe to secure Jack Warner's support for naming South Africa the hosts of the 2010 World Cup.

    At a news conference in Johannesburg today, Minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalula said that South Africa didn't bribe anyone.

    Mbalula said he wants to see the U.S. evidence in the case. But he insisted that a transfer of $10 million to CONCACAF was legitimate — part of an African diaspora program. And he said his country didn't deal with criminals.

    "You must understand that when we organised the World Cup we were not dealing with gangsters but people. We were not sniffer dogs to check everybody's legitimacy," Mbalula said, according to Sowetan Live. "We can't account for it. The fact that later they turned gangsters, that is not our problem."

    After Blatter's resignation, Mbalula showed that he knows how to seize an opportunity. He tweeted, "am available for FIFA Presidency" — and then held an informal vote on Twitter to vote for or against nominating him for president.

    For investigative journalist Andrew Jennings, the seismic events that have hit FIFA since arrest and search warrants were executed last Wednesday are both a confirmation of his hard work and a bit of old news. He's the author of the 2006 book Foul! The Secret World of Fifa.

    Jennings also made a documentary for the BBC, titled The Beautiful Bung, which detailed how a liquidator found signs that a bankrupt marketing company named ISL had issued bribes to sports officials. His efforts led FIFA to ban Jennings from its buildings and events.

    "I know that they are criminal scum and I've known it for years," Jennings told The Washington Post on Tuesday. "And that is a thoughtful summation. That is not an insult. That is not throwing about wild words."

    Things took a turn back in 2009, Jennings says, when agents from the FBI's organized crime unit arranged to meet him in London. He later gave them some of CONCACAF's private financial records that showed large and mysterious payments.

    Jennings tells the Post that when he met the U.S. agents, his reaction was one of "bliss."

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    Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.