Swiss authorities interrogate FIFA president Sepp Blatter about suspected criminal activity

In a dramatic turn of events in the ongoing FIFA corruption crisis, its embattled president Sepp Blatter has been interrogated by Swiss authorities on Friday regarding an investigation into charges of "criminal mismanagement" and "misappropriation."

Updated: Sep 26, 2015, 09:17 AM IST
Swiss authorities interrogate FIFA president Sepp Blatter about suspected criminal activity

New Delhi: In a dramatic turn of events in the ongoing FIFA corruption crisis, its embattled president Sepp Blatter has been interrogated by Swiss authorities on Friday regarding an investigation into charges of "criminal mismanagement" and "misappropriation."

According to the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG), it had interrogated Blatter following today's FIFA executive committee meeting. The OAG suspects that he signed an unfavorable contract with the Caribbean Football Union in September 2005, whose president at the time was another accused Jack Warner.

"The OAG suspects that on 12 September 2005 Mr. Joseph Blatter has signed a contract with the Caribbean Football Union (with Jack Warner as the President at this time); this contract was unfavorable for FIFA," the statement read.

"On the other hand, there is as suspicion that, in the implementation of this agreement, Joseph Blatter also violated his fiduciary duties and acted against the interest of FIFA and/or FIFA Marketing & TV AG," the statement added.

This may link to the widely reported claims that Baltter had sold the TV rights for World Cup to the disgraced former FIFA heavyweight Warner at below the market rate.

Besides, the Swiss administrator is suspected of a disloyal payment of USD 2 million to UEFA President Michel Platini in 2011. And it's reported that Platini also spoke to the authorities during the FIFA Executive Committee meeting.

"Additionally, Mr. Joseph Blatter is suspected of a disloyal payment of two million Swiss Francs to Michel Platini, President of Union of European Football Association (UEFA), at the expense of FIFA, which was allegedly made for work performed between January 1999 and June 2002 ; this payment was executed in February 2011," continued the statement.

Earlier, FIFA cancelled a much anticipated press conference at its Zurich headquarters as the investigation in the corruption scandal seems to enter a decisive phase with OAG conducting house search at FIFA Headquarters and the subsequent data seized.

The OAG confirmed the search and sieze of data in the statement. "the OAG conducted on 25 September 2015 a house search at FIFA Headquarters with the support of the Federal Criminal Police. The office of the FIFA President has been searched and data seized."

But the statement clairified that like all other defendants "the presumption of innocence applies" to the controversial administrator.

It's worth noting that football's world governing body last week said that it had been "cooperating" and has "complied with all requests for documents, date and other information."

On Thursday, FIFA handed over emails from Blatter's longstanding right hand man Jerome Valcke. Earlier in May, 14 FIFA officials have been arrested in Zurich' five-star Baur au Lac hotel on corruption charges over the controversial awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.

Then, Blatter was re-elected FIFA president again amidst furor on May 29. Days later, Blatter announced that he would be resigning, and would remain in office until his successor could be elected.