Swiss prosecutors have opened criminal proceedings against FIFA president Sepp Blatter on a day of stunning developments at football’s world governing body.
The Swiss attorney general’s office issued a statement saying Blatter is suspected of criminal mismanagement or misappropriation over a TV rights deal he signed with former Caribbean football chief Jack Warner in 2005.
He is also suspected of “a disloyal payment” of two millions Swiss francs to UEFA president Michel Platini – who is the favourite to succeed him – in 2011.
Officers from the Swiss Office of the Attorney General (OAG) interrogated Blatter at FIFA headquarters following a FIFA executive committee meeting on Friday. His office was searched and data seized.
An OAG statement said: “Swiss criminal proceedings against the president of FIFA, Mr. Joseph Blatter, have been opened on 24 September 2015 on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and – alternatively – misappropriation.
“On the one hand, the OAG suspects that on 12 September 2005 Mr. Joseph Blatter has signed a contract with the Caribbean Football Union (with Jack Warner as the president at this time); this contract was unfavourable for FIFA. On the other hand, 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 and/or FIFA Marketing & TV AG.
“Additionally, Mr. Joseph Blatter is suspected of a disloyal payment of 2 million CHF [Swiss francs] to Michel Platini, President of UEFA, at the expense of FIFA, which was allegedly made for work performed between January 1999 and June 2002 ; this payment was executed in February 2011. ”
The statement added: “representatives of the OAG interrogated the defendant Joseph Blatter following a meeting of the FIFA executive committee. At the same time, Michel Platini was heard as a person asked to provide information.
“Furthermore, the OAG conducted on September 25 a house search at FIFA headquarters with the support of the Federal Criminal Police. The office of the FIFA president has been searched and data seized.
“As for all defendants, the presumption of innocence applies for Mr. Joseph Blatter.”
FIFA said it was co-operating with the investigation.
A statement said: “Since 27 May 2015, FIFA has been co-operating with the Office of the Swiss Attorney General (OAG) and has complied with all requests for documents, data and other information. We will continue this level of co-operation throughout the investigation. 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 co-operation. We will have no further comment on the matter as it is an active investigation.”