Traffic’s owner, Brazilian José Hawilla, is one of those involved who agreed to collaborate with the US justice department investigation into fraud, money laundering and corruption over the past 24 years, during which about €140 million is said to have changed hands in bribes.
Hawilla has reportedly admitted to charges of electronic fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice for his implication in the case and agreed to repay $151 million though Tusa, the Traffic branch in the United States, where the investigation began that led to the arrest of seven senior FIFA officials or former officials in Switzerland.
Traffic Sports Europe bought Estoril-Praia in 2010 when it was in the Portuguese Second Division, and has since gained promotion to the Portuguese Liga, and thereafter twice managing to qualify for the lucrative Europa League.
The FIFA suspects include two vice-presidents, Eugenio Figueredo from Uruguay and Jeffrey Webb from the Cayman islands and the president of CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football), along with Paraguayan Nicolás Leoz, the former president of the South American Confederation (Conmebol).
This news comes just a few days after former Portugal international Luís Figo dropped out of the race for president of FIFA, the world football federation, saying that the process “is not a normal electoral act” and comparing the current state of the organisation with a “dictatorship”.
In a written statement, Figo said the reason for him pulling out was due the fact that the incumbent, Joseph Blatter, who is standing for a fourth term, had not presented a manifesto, and that there are no debates, or opportunity for candidates other than Blatter to speak at FIFA events.
“This electoral process is anything but an election,” the statement said.
“This process is a plebiscite to hand over absolute power to a single man, something that I refuse to countenance. That’s why, after reflecting on my own and exchanging opinions with two other candidates in this process, I understand that what will happen on 29 May in Zurich is not a normal electoral act.”
Figo said he had witnessed “a series of episodes, in various parts of the world that should shame a free, clean and democratic football.”
That, he said, included the presidents of national federations in private comparing FIFA’s top officials “to the devil” and the next day “they would get up on stage and compare the same people to Jesus Christ.”
Figo’s withdrawal came just hours after Michael van Praag of the Netherlands also pulled out. He said he would back Jordan’s Ali bin Al Hussein, in this Friday’s election.