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Swiss authorities say two FIFA officials arrested for suspected graft

Two FIFA officials arrested in Switzerland are suspected of graft involving millions of dollars, Swiss justice authorities have said. They said the arrests were made at the request of the US Department of Justice.

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Swiss police arrest two FIFA officials

The two officials from soccer's worldgoverning body were arrested on Thursday in a pre-dawn raid at the luxury Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich, Swiss officials have confirmed.

The hotel is the same one where several other top football officials were arrested on May 27.

The Swiss Ministry of Justice did not identify the two men, but various news agencies have given their names as the FIFA vice presidents, Juan Angel Napout of Paraguay and Alfredo Hawit Banegas of Honduras.

In a statement, the ministry said the officials were "suspected of accepting bribes of millions of dollars." It said the money was connected with marketing rights for the Copa America and World Cup qualifying matches.

The ministry said the officials were being held in custody pending extradition to the United States.

FIFA 'co-operating fully'

Thursday's raids were carried out as part of a US-led probe into alleged racketeering, money laundering and fraud at FIFA. Requests for the arrests were made by US authorities because "some of the offences were agreed and prepared in the USA," according to the ministry, which added that payments had also been processed in US banks.

FIFA said in as statement that it was "aware of the actions taken today by the US Department of Justice." and that it would co-operate fully with both US and Swiss investigations.

The raid came during a two-day meeting of the FIFA Executive Committee that is aimed at coming up with a reform plan to protect the soccer governing body against corruption in its ranks.

The corruption scandal has led to the 90-day provisionalsuspension of FIFA's longtime president, Joseph (Sepp) Blatter, who is now under criminal investigation in Switzerland for alleged corruption. Michel Platini, the man once considered Blatter's likely successor in the post of president, has also been suspended and is also under investigation.

Both

face possible lifetime bans

from football at ethics hearing expected this month.

tj/pfd (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)

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