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Blatter ‘under criminal investigation’ say Swiss

Sepp BlatterFIFA president Sepp Blatter is under criminal investigation, the authorities in Switzerland announced today.

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) said  Mr Blatter is under suspicion of “criminal mismanagement” and “misappropriation” in connection with a television contract awarded to former FIFA official Jack Warner.

Mr Blatter, president for 17 years, had been scheduled to hold a news conference at the FIFA event today but it was abruptly cancelled with no explanation after being delayed by an hour.

Swiss authorities said they also searched and seized data from Mr Blatter’s office at FIFA headquarters in Zurich.

In a statement, Michael Lauber, the Swiss Attorney General, said: “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 unfavorable 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.”

That is believed to relate to the television contract unearthed by Swiss broadcasters that showed Blatter had agreed to sell television rights to the Mr Warner at below the market rate.

Mr Lauber went on: “Additionally, Mr Joseph Blatter is suspected of a disloyal payment of 2m Swiss francs to Michel Platini, President of Union of European Football Associations (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.”

In May, seven Fifa executives were arrested as American prosecutors outlined charges of money laundering, racketeering and fraud against 14 individuals including nine high ranking football officials.

Of the 14 Fifa officials indicted in May, 13 have been arrested of whom three have been charged in US courtrooms and 10 await extradition.

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