FIFA to brief executive committee on US, Swiss probes

Zurich –

FIFA’s executive committee will be updated this week on US and Swiss corruption investigations involving some of its members, soccer’s governing body said on Tuesday.

The two-day session starting on Thursday will be chaired by President Sepp Blatter, the expected target of both federal cases.

Nine current executive members, including Blatter, took part in the votes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which are the focus of a Swiss investigation into possible money laundering and criminal mismanagement of FIFA assets.

In the US case, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in Zurich last week that she expected more charges in a widening investigation into racketeering and bribery worth ‘more than $150 million’, which has already convicted 14 men. and four others have been convicted.

Blatter’s reluctance to visit countries that have extradition treaties with the United States has affected FIFA’s business program.

FIFA said the executive committee will decide on Friday the date and place of its next meeting.

It was previously due to take place on December 17-18 in Japan, which hosts the Club World Cup and where Blatter could risk arrest.

One option could be to keep a rare five-month gap between executive sessions and hold the meeting in Zurich before an extraordinary congress on February 26, when Blatter’s successor will be elected.

FIFA said Blatter’s executive panel would approve the congressional agenda this week.

FIFA’s agenda was signed by acting secretary general Markus Kuttner, who was promoted last Thursday after his boss Jerome Valcke was suspended from duty following allegations of a proposed black market deal for 2014 World Cup tickets. Valke denies wrongdoing.

The agenda said Brazil’s representative Marco Polo del Nero would present an update later this week on the work of the organizing committee for next year’s Olympic football tournament in Rio de Janeiro. Del Niro chairs the committee, which reportedly met on Monday without him.

Del Niro abruptly left Switzerland in May, hours after two FIFA vice-presidents and other officials were arrested in a hotel raid in Zurich on the eve of Blatter’s re-election. Del Niro missed Brazil’s matches at the Copa America in Chile in June and a FIFA executive committee meeting in Zurich in July.

Blatter has denied any wrongdoing and blamed individuals from football’s continental confederations for implicating FIFA in corruption.

Still, Swiss legal experts said this month that Blatter should be investigated by Switzerland’s attorney general for selling World Cup television rights below market rates to Jack Warner, the former FIFA vice-president for the Caribbean.

Swiss state prosecutor Michael Lauber revealed last week that his office has seized apartments in the Swiss Alps and searched properties in western Switzerland in what could be the completion of a wider case.

Lauber said his team seized a huge amount of data and documents from FIFA headquarters and should analyze suspicious activity reports from banks in Switzerland. The matter must go beyond votes for the World Cup won by Russia and Qatar in 2010, and delve deeper into the day-to-day business of FIFA during Blatter’s presidency since 1998.

Blatter announced on 2 June that he would be leaving FIFA early, and later cited pressure from the double investigation.

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