Europe

Fifa vice-president Juan Angel Napout denies bribery after extradition

Juan Angel Napout, ex-president of the South American Football Confederation Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Juan Angel Napout is accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes

Fifa vice-president Juan Angel Napout has pleaded not guilty to bribery charges in New York after being extradited to the US, his lawyer said.

The president of the South American football federation Conmebol was detained in Zurich earlier this month.

Mr Napout, a Paraguayan, is accused of taking bribes worth millions of dollars linked to the sale of marketing rights to South American tournaments.

He resigned following his arrest and is currently banned from football.

Earlier in the day, former Honduras President Rafael Callejas also pleaded not guilty to bribery at the federal court in Brooklyn.

Mr Callejas, who led his country between 1990 and 1994, is a current member of Fifa's television and marketing committee.

Both men are among 16 current and former senior football officials indicted by US authorities investigating corruption in the organisation earlier this month.

Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Rafael Callejas, a former president of Honduras, has appeared in court in New York

The FBI investigation was initially sparked by the controversial award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, as well as the bidding process for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

But the inquiry has since been widened to look at Fifa's dealings over the past 20 years. The US says the corruption was planned in the US and US banks were used to transfer money.

Fifa President Sepp Blatter has always denied any wrongdoing, but in September he was made the subject of a parallel Swiss criminal investigation.

Swiss justice authorities also said Eduardo Li, a former president of the Costa Rican federation who was arrested in Zurich in May, had dropped his appeal against extradition to the US.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption In Brazil, former players have called for the resignation of federation chief Marco Polo Del Nero

Meanwhile in Peru, authorities have opened an investigation into the current head of the Peruvian Football Federation (FPF), Edwin Oviedo, as well as 65 other people.

Prosecutors are examining the FPF's bank accounts and balance sheets amid suspicion that sports activities were used to launder money, AFP news agency reports.

And in Brazil, former stars including Rai and Paulo Cezar Caju have called for the resignation of Brazilian Football Confederation President Marco Polo Del Nero, who has been indicted in the US for "racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies".

"We need a more democratic institution in order to rebuild Brazilian football," Rai told BBC Brasil.

Mr Del Nero is currently on a leave of absence.