Swiss Gov’t Opens Criminal Probe of Blatter

Investigation Could Help U.S. Case Against Former FIFA Chief

The Swiss government has opened a criminal investigation against disgraced former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, tied in part to alleged payments he made to another soccer official in 2011.

Blatter, who resigned from his perch atop the world soccer governing body in June, is being investigated by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and suspicion of misappropriation. The charges are tied to a contract he signed with the Caribbean Football Union, headed by former FIFA official Jack Warner at the time,  that it claims was “unfavorable for FIFA.” In addition, the OGA claims Blatter is suspected of making a “disloyal payment” of 2 million Swiss francs (about $2.04 million) to UEFA president Michel Platini “at the expense of FIFA, which was allegedly made for work performed between January 1999 and June 2002.” The OAG said the payment was executed in February 2011.

Warner, a former FIFA vice president and former president of the CONCACAF, the body that governs soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean, was indicted along with several other FIFA officials as part of the bribery scandal that rocked soccer’s world governing body in May when U.S. officials raided a hotel in Zurich. Platini is one of several world soccer officials that have thrown their hat into the ring to replace Blatter.

According to the Swiss government, the investigation comes after Blatter was interrogated by representatives of the OAG on Sept. 25 following a meeting of the FIFA Executive Committee.

In a statement, FIFA said it is cooperating fully with the OAG investigation.

The investigation could help U.S. efforts in indicting the former FIFA chief. According to reports, the U.S. government’s case centers around financial transactions made as part of the bribery schemes being conducted through U.S. banks. According to a CNN report, U.S. officials have had difficulty in tying Blatter to those transactions and that Swiss officials may make those connections more easily since Blatter is based in their country.  

The investigation comes about a week after FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke was suspended by the governing body while it investigates allegations that he participated in a scheme to profit from the sale of black market World Cup tickets.