[Photo: Blatter has filed a criminal complaint in connection with the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 to Russia and Qatar]
FIFA’s World Cup bid corruption case has taken a surprising turn, with President Sepp Blatter filing a criminal complaint with the Swiss attorney general. The complaint mentions illegal “transfers of assets.”
In a surprise move, world soccer’s governing body, FIFA, filed a criminal complaint against unnamed individuals Tuesday with the attorney general of Switzerland, calling for an investigation into money transfers involved in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests which were won by Russia and Qatar, respectively.
The action is the first time FIFA has attempted to get law enforcement involved in its own World Cup bid investigation, which concluded last week after 18 months and did not find sufficient evidence to threaten either Russia or Qatar’s status as hosts of the next two World Cups in 2018 and 2022.
Sepp Blatter Sept 2014
Blatter has filed a criminal complaint in connection with the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 to Russia and Qatar
FIFA said it had evidence that a certain number of unnamed individuals may have broken unspecified laws in Switzerland in connection with the bidding process.
“In particular, there seem to be grounds for suspicion that, in isolated cases, international transfers of assets with connections to Switzerland took place, which merit examination by the criminal prosecution authorities,” a FIFA statement said.
As a result of the request, made by FIFA President Sepp Blatter, it is likely that Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber will receive all 430 pages of the confidential investigation report made by US prosecutor Michael Garcia on alleged corruption in the World Cup bidding process.
Garcia has lodged a complaint with FIFA after the body’s ethics judge, Joachim Eckert, released an abridged version of the report that Garcia deemed “incomplete and erroneous.” The report has been widely denounced as a whitewash of the Russian and Qatari bids, as well as FIFA voters.
Eckert and Blatter maintain that they would be violating FIFA and state law if they published the full report, and Eckert reiterated Tuesday that “there is insufficient incriminating evidence to call into question the whole bidding process” for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Garcia and Eckert are scheduled to meet Thursday at an undisclosed location and attempt to resolve their differences of opinion over the publishing of the report
Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani und Igor Shuvalov
A confidential report detailing alleged corruption in the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups is at the center of the FIFA controversy
Affair far from over?
Skeptics of FIFA are likely to view the recently filed complaint as an attempt to change the narrative of FIFA stonewalling, and also to fend of criticism. “If we had anything to hide, we would hardly be taking this matter to the office of the attorney general,” Blatter said.
But Blatter’s latest move suggests that even though he has deemed the investigation into the 2018 and 2022 biding process “concluded,” the affair is in fact far from over.
Lauber may receive powers denied to Garcia while he was conducting his investigation, such as the power to force the handover of phone records and financial documents and the ability to compel witnesses to testify.
And according to Blatter, Garcia will still be able to conduct internal FIFA investigations into individuals if he deems it necessary.
bw/es (AP, AFP, Reuters)