Venezuelan authorities raid local football federation amid FIFA scandal

CARACAS, June 3 (Reuters) - Military intelligence raided the headquarters of the Venezuelan Football Federation (FVF) on Wednesday as part of a corruption investigation following the arrest of its former president Rafael Esquivel in Switzerland. Esquivel was detained in Zurich last week along with six other officials of world governing body FIFA accused of receiving millions of dollars in bribes. The arrests have left the powerful organization in crisis, with Sepp Blatter standing down as president on Tuesday just days after re-election. Venezuela's Public Prosecutor's Office said in a statement that military intelligence agents had gone into the FVF office in Caracas "as part of the investigation into alleged irregularities" by Esquivel. It gave no further details and there was no immediate from the Venezuelan federation. Esquivel, 68, who ran the federation since 1988, and the other detainees in Zurich could face extradition proceedings to the United States. Prosecutors there have linked nine soccer officials and five sports media and promotions executives to more than $150 million in bribes over more than two decades. The U.S. investigation revealed a complex money laundering scheme, millions of dollars of unreported income and tens of millions of dollars in FIFA officials' bank accounts. As part of the investigation, authorities accused the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) of participating in a bribery scandal worth $100 million related to the granting of commercial rights for various Copa America tournaments, including the one which kicks off in Chile next week. (Reporting by Diego Ore; Writing by Girish Gupta; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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