FIFA has filed a criminal complaint against unnamed individuals following the publication of the report into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process.
In what has been construed as an attempt to deflect criticism away from the organisation, FIFA president Sepp Blatter has asked Switzerland’s attorney general to investigate the behaviour of certain people involved in the bid campaigns.
Blatter claimed FIFA’s filing of a criminal complaint “of course” represented his commitment towards transparency on the bidding probe.
“If we had anything to hide, we would hardly be taking this matter to the Office of the Attorney General,” he said. “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.”
Blatter acted on a request by FIFA ethics judge Joachim Eckert, whose summary last week of an investigation by American prosecutor Michael Garcia was denounced in some quarters as a “whitewash’’ of Russia, Qatar and FIFA officials.
On Tuesday, Eckert said that he submitted his advice of a criminal complaint “more or less at the same time’’ as his 42-page summary was published.
He said the complaint concerns “suspected unlawful activity in connection with Switzerland.’’ No details were given as to which financial or business laws might have been broken.
A FIFA statement noted that “in isolated cases, international transfers of assets with connections to Switzerland took place, which merit examination by the criminal prosecution authorities.’’
Eckert concluded that any wrongdoing in the bidding process did not justify reviewing the December 2010 votes by FIFA’s executive committee. Still, “there are indications of potential illegal or irregular conduct in certain areas,’’ he said.
The criminal complaint is the latest twist in an increasingly farcical saga played out since last week’s publication of Eckert’s report. Garcia has himself appealed to FIFA, questioning Eckert’s interpretation of his findings, and stating that his team’s 430-page investigation reports were misrepresented by the German judge.