herald

Sunday 11 December 2016

FIFA in the dock as key men lifted in dawn raid

SEPP Blatter knows all about timing. Football's great survivor has seen off many challengers in his day but when the FBI, the US Department of Justice and the Swiss Attorney General are knocking on the door, it could be that his number is up.

Facing an already difficult presidential election with just one rival, Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, Blatter is now under siege. Timing is everything in politics. At the centre of an ongoing investigation is the allocation of the 2018 and 2020 World Cups to Russian and Qatar and up to $150m in kick-backs and bribes.

"The defendants also include US and South American sports marketing executives who are alleged to have systematically paid and agreed to pay well over $150 million in bribes and kickbacks to obtain lucrative media and marketing rights to international soccer tournaments," the US Justice Department said in a statement.

Officers raided FIFA's headquarters in Zurich,and have opened criminal proceedings "against persons unknown on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and of money laundering in connection with the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 football World Cups," said a statement from the Swiss attorney general. The statement added: "There are also suspicions of money laundering through Swiss bank accounts. Subsequently to today's seizure of files, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and the Swiss Federal Criminal Police will be questioning 10 persons who took part in voting on the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups as members of the Executive Committee in 2010. These persons should be questioned as persons providing information."

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