Costa Ricans, who take their soccer very seriously, were stunned Wednesday to find out that Eduardo Li, president of the Federación Costarricense de Fútbol, was one of the suspects grabbed in a U.S.-inspired sweep in Zurich.
Li still is in jail in Switzerland and is believed to be fighting extradition on U.S. money laundering and conspiracy charges. He also is a member of the executive committee of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, soccer’s ruling organization.
He is vulnerable to U.S. law because investigators say he used banks in Miami and New York to hold money they say came from bribes.
Law enforcement in Costa Rica said they would launch an investigation of Li and his 28 registered companies. The Costa Rican consul in Switzerland is trying to contact him.
Some Costa Ricans said they were relieved that the allegations involve bribes for media coverage and not allegations against players.
Li would have been protected against extradition if he remained in Costa Rica.
Federal agents said they have a very strong case, and that some of the suspects already have pleaded guilty and are giving them information as part of the plea deals. Agents also managed to obtain tape recordings of meetings they say are incriminating.