Interpol issues alerts for 6 wanted persons, a day after Blatter resigns

Interpol’s so-called red notice alert for two former senior FIFA officials
Interpol’s so-called red notice alert for two former senior FIFA officials and four corporate executives. Credit Interpol, via European Pressphoto Agency
Interpol's so-called red notice alert for two former senior FIFA officials and four corporate executives. Credit Interpol, via European Pressphoto Agency
Interpol’s so-called red notice alert for two former senior FIFA officials and four corporate executives. Credit Interpol, via European Pressphoto Agency

Interpol issued wanted person alerts on Wednesday for two former senior FIFA officials and four corporate executives, one day after Sepp Blatter’s surprising announcement that he would resign as the head of soccer’s governing body.

Mr. Blatter, who led FIFA for 17 years and was seen as a towering and influential figure in global sports, resigned on Tuesday. The announcement came just four days after he was re-elected as FIFA president, as law enforcement officials in the United States confirmed that he was the subject of the federal corruption investigation that has ensnared the organization.

Mr. Blatter was defiant after winning his fifth term, declaring “I forgive but I don’t forget,” raising the question of what led to his about-face. One answer may come today, when a judge in New York is expected to order the release of the transcript of a 2013 hearing in which Chuck Blazer, a former member of FIFA’s executive committee who is now cooperating with the American authorities, pleaded guilty to corruption charges.

The Interpol alerts, so-called red notices, issued at the request of the United States, include the former FIFA vice president Jack Warner, who is from Trinidad and Tobago and is accused of accepting bribes in connection with the awarding of the 2010 World Cup to South Africa; Nicolás Leoz, a Paraguayan citizen and former FIFA executive committee member; Alejandro Burzaco, an Argentine who controls a sports marketing business based in Argentina; Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, Argentines who own a sports marketing business; and José Margulies, a Brazilian citizen who owns broadcasting businesses.

Publishing head shots of the six men on its website, Interpol said they were wanted “for charges including racketeering, conspiracy and corruption.”

Red notices are issued by Interpol to inform member nations that an arrest warrant has been issued for an individual, and that Interpol is seeking “the location and arrest of wanted persons with a view to extradition or similar lawful action.” But, crucially, red notices are not international arrest warrants, and Interpol does not have the power to compel other countries to arrest the subject of a red notice.

Mr. Blatter, a tenacious leader who has managed to distance himself from scandal in the past, appeared to yield to mounting pressure on Tuesday, when he announced his resignation. Speaking in French in front of a sparse audience at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, he said he would resign, although that process will take months.

Mr. Blatter showed up for work on Wednesday at FIFA headquarters, and a briefing was held for 350 staff members, a BBC reporter said on Twitter.

On Wednesday, Mr. Blatter’s daughter, Corinne Blatter-Andenmatten, told the Swiss daily newspaper Blick that her father’s resignation was not prompted by the corruption accusations. “His decision has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with the allegations going around,” she told the paper.

As FIFA officials pledged to clean up the way the organization is run, Qatar sought to rebut a blog post on the website of The Washington Post alleging that 1,200 migrant workers were estimated to have died while working in construction for the 2022 World Cup. “This is completely untrue. In fact, after almost five million work-hours on World Cup construction sites, not a single worker’s life has been lost,” the Government Communications Office was quoted as saying by the state-run Qatar News Agency.

Qatar, which has fought calls for it to be stripped of the 2022 World Cup over concerns about the bidding process, has also faced widespread criticism for the safety and treatment of migrant workers building the stadiums needed for the tournament. The Qatari government has since said that it wants to prevent abuses, and has introduced a system of oversight intended to ensure that workers’ salaries are paid, but a report by Amnesty International released last month said that Qatar was failing to live up to its promises.

UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, has postponed a meeting in Berlin that was set for this weekend that was originally intended to discuss how to respond to Mr. Blatter’s re-election as president of FIFA. UEFA’s president, Michel Platini, said in a statement that the investigation underway in the United States was “unpredictable” and that it was better to wait and assess the situation following Mr. Blatter’s announcement that he would resign.

Hyundai Motor Company, the South Korean carmaker, on Wednesday became the latest FIFA sponsor to welcome Mr. Blatter’s announcement. Hyundai and Kia Motors Corporation, joint sponsors of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, said it was a “positive first step” and would allow an overhaul of how FIFA was administered.

The comments came after Visa said it expected FIFA to “rebuild a culture with strong ethical practices,” and Coca-Cola called Mr. Blatter’s announcement a “positive step for the good of sport, football and its fans.”

Speculation continued to swirl about who would replace Mr. Blatter as president of FIFA, with Mr. Platini quickly emerging as a likely candidate. Mr. Platini once was so close to Mr. Blatter, 79, that he characterized him as an uncle, but he became one of his toughest critics and asked him on Friday to resign.

Mr. Platini, 59, was a star player and later a coach for the French national team, and he played a central role in organizing France’s 1998 World Cup. But FIFA members may prefer a fresher face.

Another contender is Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, who ran a strong campaign against Mr. Blatter in last week’s election, losing to Blatter, 133 to 73 in the first ballot before conceding. He ran on a platform of rooting out corruption from the organization, and on Tuesday he told CNN that he would be “at the disposal” of anyone who wanted to bring about change at FIFA, including those who might have been “afraid to do so” before Mr. Blatter’s announcement.

On Wednesday, Frank Lowy, chairman of the Football Federation of Australia, issued an open letter about Mr. Blatter’s resignation and Australia’s failed bid to host the 2010 World Cup, suggesting that his organization had paid funds to FIFA that ended up in the hands of Mr. Warner.

Mr. Lowy said that the Australian federation had donated money to Concacaf, the umbrella federation for North and Central America, which had asked Australia to donate $4 million for a feasibility study for the development of a center of excellence in Trinidad and Tobago. Instead, he said, the association compromised and offered $500,000. He said that a Concacaf investigation subsequently found that Mr. Warner had committed fraud and misappropriated the funds.

“We ran a clean bid and we are proud of that but it wasn’t a level playing field and therefore we didn’t win it,” he wrote. “I will always be bitterly disappointed about the outcome.”