FIFA Calls Sepp Blatter A Potential CriminalJake Cooper | 23 Dec 2020
World soccer governing body FIFA has just been confirmed as being embroiled in yet another legal and potentially criminal scandal.
FIFA recently confirmed having filed a criminal compliant with Zurich’s office of the prosecutor regarding the organisation being in supposed possession of evidence of mismanagement of a criminal nature. The alleged evidence relates to a museum project set up and part-managed by former FICA president Joseph “Sepp” Blatter.
According to the information released by the sports governing body, the evidence at hand suggests the direct involvement of Blatter and several other persons in certain agreements made relating to the controversial museum, which is situated in central Zurich.
The Overpriced Rental Agreement
The statement refers to a project set up at a cost of around $564.6 million – with roughly a quarter of that poured by Blatter and his administration into the renovation of a building FIFA claims it does not even own.
Blatter and co. allegedly also locked the organisation into a long-term rental agreement concluded at much higher rates than the industry standard. According to FIFA, the project will have cost the organisation at least $400 million by the time the rental agreement expires in 2045 – money it says should have been channelled into the development of global soccer instead.
FIFA’s Tainted Legal History
Blatter’s legal representative and lawyer, Lorenz Erni, has however responded to the allegations made by FIFA by referring to the accusations as being “baseless”.
Blatter, who served as president of the soccer governing body for a lengthy 17 years, was in 2015 suspended and later on banned by the organisation’s ethics committee following his involvement in criminal proceedings in Switzerland during that same year.
According to FIFA Deputy Secretary General Alasdair Bell, a formal forensic audit and investigation into the controversial project was recently finalised. The audit, said Bell, uncovered an extensive range of failures on management’s part, not to mention even evidence of suspicious circumstances. Since some of what had been uncovered by the audit may be of a criminal nature, Bell said the next step will be for a proper investigation by the relevant judicial authorities.
FIFA is of course no stranger to allegations of criminal misconduct within its ranks – with current president Gianni Infantino himself now a subject of a criminal investigation being conducted by a Swiss special prosecutor.
FIFA has dismissed the allegations made against Infantino as baseless and a witch-hunt.