Brazil's Marin extradited to US in FIFA corruption probe

ZURICH - Former Brazilian soccer chief Jose Maria Marin was extradited from Switzerland to the United States on Tuesday, Swiss authorities said, to face charges stemming from an FBI investigation into corruption at the highest levels of the sport.

Marin was handed over to two US police officers in Zurich who accompanied him on a flight to New York, a spokesman for the Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police said.

The 83-year-old is a former president of the Brazilian Football Confederation, and headed Brazil's preparations to host the 2014 World Cup. He is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday morning in Brooklyn federal court, where he is expected to plead not guilty to corruption charges.

His attorneys in the United States and Switzerland did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Marin was among seven officials from global soccer body FIFA who were arrested in May at their Zurich hotel after being indicted on US charges.

The affair has rocked the administration of the world's most popular sport and upset powerful commercial sponsors. Among those under investigation are veteran FIFA boss Sepp Blatter, who is currently suspended and is due to be replaced in an election in February.

Marin, who agreed last week to be extradited, is accused of having taken bribes in connection with sports marketing rights.

US authorities say he was one a handful of high-ranking soccer officials who were due to receive US$110 million (S$154 million) in bribes in exchange for the media rights for regional soccer tournaments. They say at least US$40 million had been paid out by the time the charges were announced.

The indictment also links Marin to a scheme to receive bribes for the commercial rights associated with the Copa do Brasil, an annual tournament for Brazil's top club teams.

A spokeswoman for the US Attorney's Office in Brooklyn declined to comment on the extradition announcement.