FIFA Files Complaint Against Blatter

(ATR) FIFA says it uncovered “suspected criminal mismanagement” by former president Sepp Blatter and his administration.

(ATR) More than five years after Sepp Blatter stepped down as FIFA president, world soccer’s governing body claims to have uncovered "suspected criminal mismanagement" by Blatter and his administration tied to the FIFA Museum project.

FIFA says it lodged a complaint to the Zurich prosecutor after "an investigation by external experts".

FIFA, in the complaint, put the total project cost at CHF 500 million ($563 million). It says that the previous FIFA administration poured CHF 140 million ($158 million) into renovating and refurbishing a building that the organization doesn’t own. In addition, it signed a long-term rental agreement on unfavorable terms when compared to standard market rates, which, in total, will cost FIFA CHF 360 million ($405 million) by the date of expiration in 2045.

"That is half a billion Swiss Francs that could and should have been channeled into the development of global football," FIFA says.

"Given the massive costs associated with this Museum, as well as the general way of working of the previous FIFA management, a forensic audit was conducted in order to find out what really happened here," said FIFA Deputy Secretary General (Administration) Alasdair Bell in a statement.

"That audit revealed a wide range of suspicious circumstances and management failures, some of which may be criminal in nature and which therefore need to be properly investigated by the relevant authorities. We came to the conclusion that we had no choice other than to report the case to state prosecutors, not least because the current management of FIFA also has fiduciary responsibilities to the organization and we intend to live up to them, even if those before us dismally failed to."

Lorenz Erni, Blatter’s lawyer, denies the charges, telling multiple news agencies "The accusations are baseless and are vehemently repudiated".

The FIFA Museum project, which began in April 2013, was completed in December 2015, six months after Blatter resigned. The museum opened on February 28, 2016.

Blatter is still under a years-long investigation by Swiss authorities into a CHF two million ($2.25 million) payment made in 2011 to former UEFA boss Michael Platini.

FIFA deemed the money given Platini a "disloyal payment" and suspended Blatter and Platini from football. Blatter resigned in 2015 after 17 years in charge of FIFA.

Platini, a three-time European Footballer of the Year, was originally banned for eight years by FIFA for accepting the payment agreed verbally with Blatter and executed after the vote to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup. Many believe Blatter was paying off Platini for his help in landing Qatar the World Cup. Both men deny that, saying it was for Platini’s work as an adviser for FIFA up until 2002.

Platini’s eight-year ban was reduced to six years by a FIFA appeals committee and then reduced to four years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in May 2016. He quit his position as UEFA president after the CAS ruling and completed his four-year ban in October 2019.

Blatter was banned for eight years by FIFA, though the penalty was reduced to six years. His attempt to get the ban reduced further was denied by CAS. His ban will end in October 2021.

Written by Gerard Farek

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