FBI searching South Florida offices linked to FIFA in soccer scandal

Miami Beach offices connected to FIFA now under investigation

By Julie Aleman - Producer, Alexandra Fruin - Producer, Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor, Neki Mohan - Anchor/Reporter, Carlos Suarez - Anchor/Reporter

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - A search warrant was executed Wednesday at the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association of Football headquarters in Miami Beach.

This comes after several top FIFA officials, including two vice presidents, were arrested during an overnight raid in Zurich on charges of corruption Wednesday.

The charges include wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering. The case dates back to the 1990's, involving alleged bribes totaling more than $100 million linked to commercial deals, bribes and kick backs to get marketing rights to soccer tournaments.

FBI agents were seen at the CONCACAF headquarters by Local 10 News crews early Wednesday. Later in the afternoon, agents carried out dozens of boxes containing evidence, including computers that are believed to contain crucial evidence.

The guilty plea of its former general secretary of the organization, Charles Blazer, was also unsealed by the Justice Department. Blazer was a former U.S. representative on the FIFA executive committee.  

Another man with ties to Florida, Jose Hawilla, also pleaded guilty. Hawilla is the owner and founder of the Traffic Group, a multinational sports marketing organization based in Brazil. Traffic Sports USA, Inc. is based in Florida with offices in Brickell Key. The president of Traffic Sports, Aaron Davidson, was also indicted.

Officials believe dirty money was used to purchase several properties in Hialeah and Kendall by Davidson.

During a news conference Wednesday, U.S. attorney Loretta Lynch announced that CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb is one of the 14 charged in the corruption case.

"He alone is alleged to have taken more than $10 million in brides over a 19-year period and amassed a personal fortune," Lynch said.

"They are using our banks and our financial institutions to transact their illegal business," South Florida attorney David Weinstein said. "We are a part of the same federations of soccer and have an interest in making sure every thing is on the up and up. This case is built on the testimony of the people who were on the inside taking the bribes (and) who were delivering the bribes."

Swiss authorities say they have also opened a separate criminal investigation into FIFA's operations pertaining to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.

The U.S. Soccer Federation released a statement Wednesday stating, "The United States Soccer Federation firmly believes there is no higher priority, and nothing more important, than protecting the integrity of our game. We are committed to the highest ethical standards and business practices, and we will continue to encourage CONCACAF and FIFA to promote the same values. Out of respect for the ongoing investigation, we will not speculate or comment further on this matter at this time."

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