FIFA president Sepp Blatter has filed criminal charges in Switzerland, asking the Attorney General to investigate unnamed individuals for financial improprieties during the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process. According to a statement, this comes at the request of FIFA judge Joachim Eckert, who just last week stated that there was insufficient evidence to maintain a challenge to the FIFA board’s awarding of the host roles to Russia and Qatar in 2018 and 2022 respectively.
The judge’s explanation is that while there is not enough evidence to support a reversal of the award, there is evidence with specific financial transactions originating in Switzerland involving international transfers of assets to warrant a criminal investigation, though the specific individuals who will be the target of this investigation were not mentioned. Eckert drew heavy criticism for his decision last week to call for a close to the investigation. The fact that he issued only a redacted summary of the report from investigator Michael Garcia, and appeared to many to be more concerned with protecting the FIFA board and what was described at the time as a “culture of entitlement” among them, did not sit well with a lot of people. Garcia himself said that the material within the summary did not reflect what was in his report, and publicly challenged the decision by the judge. The two are scheduled to have a meeting, possibly to resolve their differences in a forum less public than they have been doing over the last week, in an undisclosed location this week.
By Jim Malone
Image courtesy of PAN Photo’s Vahan Stepanyan – Flickr License