Fifa faces FBI call after triggering criminal probe

Frank Dalleres
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FOOTBALL’S world governing body Fifa was last night urged to pass its files to the Serious Fraud Office and the FBI after lodging a criminal complaint with Swiss authorities over World Cup bidding.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter yesterday asked the Swiss attorney general to investigate “possible misconduct” in relation to the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, which will be hosted by Russia and Qatar.

Blatter said Fifa’s own 18-month investigation carried out by American lawyer Michael Garcia and summarised last week by German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert offered “grounds for suspicion that, in isolated cases, international transfers of assets with connections to Switzerland took place”.

Yet he insisted there was “no change” to Eckert’s verdict that the bid investigation was now closed, despite Garcia himself last week calling the findings “materially incomplete and erroneous”, and said it would be illegal to bow to calls from English Football Association chief Greg Dyke to make Garcia’s full report public.

Conservative MP Damian Collins, a long-time campaigner for Fifa reform, said that if Blatter was giving the 430-page Garcia review to Swiss prosecutors then he “must do the same for law enforcers like FBI and SFO [Serious Fraud Office]”.

The FBI is currently conducting its own probe into allegations of corruption within Fifa. The SFO said it had not received any information, for instance that Britons were suspects, that would give it jurisdiction.

Eckert’s summary cleared Qatar and Russia of wrongdoing but criticised England’s bid team for, it said, appearing willing to indulge corrupt requests.

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