Fifa lodges criminal complaint over suspicious activity during World Cup bidding process

Joe Hall
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Hans-Joachim Eckert with Michael Garcia (Source: Getty)
The unfurling drama surrounding the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup has taken yet another twist after Fifa revealed it has suspicions of unlawful activity.
Fifa has lodged a criminal complaint with the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland over the possible misconduct of unnamed individuals in connection with Switzerland during the bidding process.
Fifa president Sepp Blatter lodged the complaint on the recommendation of Fifa ethics committee adjudicatory chairman Hans-Joachim Eckert.
The possible misconduct in question relates to findings found in the independent investigation into the World Cup bidding process by Michael Garcia, chairman of the investigatory chamber of Fifa’s ethics committee.
Football’s governing body says it is suspicious of “international transfers of assets with connections to Switzerland”.
The full content of Garcia’s report is currently shrouded in mystery after the American lawyer accused Fifa of misrepresenting his findings.
Last week Fifa published a summary of Garcia’s investigation which said there was no evidence to justify stripping Qatar of the 2022 World Cup.
However, Garcia alleged that Fifa’s report contained “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions” of his 18-month inquiry.
Garcia’s full report will now be handed over to the Office of the Attorney General in Switzerland.
Fifa has faced repeated calls - including from FA chairman Greg Dyke - to publish the report in full.
However, Blatter claimed that by taking the matter to the courts, Fifa was now demonstrating that it had nothing to hide in Garcia’s report. He insisted the full 430-page report would not be made public.
Blatter added:
If we had anything to hide, we would hardly be taking this matter to the Office of the Attorney General. Fifa’s internal bodies have done all they can within the scope of their capabilities, and they are continuing with their work.
The matter will now also be looked at by an independent, state body, which shows that Fifa is not opposed to transparency.
We have examined this matter very, very carefully from a legal point of view. The result was clear: if Fifa were to publish the report, we would be violating our own association law as well as state law.
The people who are demanding in the media and elsewhere that Fifa publish the report are obviously of the opinion that Fifa should or must ignore the law in this regard. We obviously cannot do that.

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