FIFA willing to cooperate with ongoing investigation into Blatter

ZURICH —

Switzerland’s attorney general’s office said Friday it opened criminal proceedings against Blatter for possible criminal mismanagement and misappropriation of FIFA money. The Swiss federal prosecutor’s office also said Blatter’s office was searched and data was seized.

"Since 27 May 2015, FIFA has been cooperating with the Office of the Swiss Attorney General (OAG) and has complied with all requests for documents, data and other information," this according to FIFA’s official statemet. "We will continue this level of cooperation throughout the investigation."

The statement adds: "Today, at the Home of FIFA, representatives from the Office of the Swiss Attorney General conducted interviews and gathered documents pursuant to its investigation. FIFA facilitated these interviews as part of our ongoing cooperation. We will have no further comment on the matter as it is an active investigation."

FIFA vice president Michel Platini was also questioned as a witness over a ”disloyal payment” of $2 million he received from Blatter in Feb. 2011, Swiss authorities say. Under Swiss law, a payment is classified disloyal if it is against the best interest of the employer — in this case FIFA.

Platini, who is the favorite to succeed the outgoing Blatter as FIFA president next February, was a personal adviser to his former mentor when he started out in football politics.

The payment by Blatter from FIFA funds was ”allegedly made for work performed between January 1999 and June 2002,” the attorney general’s office said. Blatter was interrogated after chairing a meeting of FIFA’s executive committee.

The 79-year-old Swiss had been set to hold a news conference for international media after the meeting, but it was first postponed and then suddenly cancelled. Blatter is the first person to be formally quizzed as a suspect in the Swiss case, which FIFA instigated last November when it complained about possible money laundering in the 2018-2022 World Cup bidding contests won by Russia and Qatar.

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The allegations Friday also relate to World Cup broadcasting contracts Blatter agreed to with disgraced former FIFA vice president Jack Warner in 2005.

”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,” the Swiss federal office said.