STORY: Swiss prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into Sepp Blatter, the head of world soccer body FIFA, on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and misappropriation, the Swiss attorney general’s office said on Friday (September 25).
Blatter was interrogated after a meeting of FIFA’s executive committee in Zurich, and authorities carried out a search at FIFA headquarters on Friday.
“The office of the FIFA President has been searched and data seized,” the office of the attorney general (OAG) said in a statement.
US and Swiss authorities announced in May they were investigating corruption at the highest levels of the world’s most popular sport, including in the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 world cups to Russia and Qatar.
Fourteen soccer officials and sports marketing executives were indicted at that time, but until Friday, authorities had not pointed the finger at Blatter, the 79-year-old Swiss who has run FIFA since 1998.
He has denied wrongdoing.
Blatter was questioned by the OAG’s representatives and Michel Platini, the former French soccer star who runs European soccer body UEFA, was also asked to give information, the statement said.
Platini is favourite to win the election to replace Blatter when he steps down in February.
The statement said that Blatter was suspected of a “disloyal payment” of 2 million Swiss francs ($2.05 million) to Platini at the expense of FIFA, allegedly made for work performed between January 1999 and June 2002.
The payment was executed in February 2011, the OAG said. A spokeswoman for US prosecutors refused to comment. – Reuters