FIFA calls for criminal probe

The criminal complaint was instigated on the recommendation of Hans-Joachim Eckert, the FIFA ethics judge who has been evaluating Michael Garcia’s report into the processes.

A statement from football’s governing body said Eckert had found grounds to suspect individuals involved in the process of illegally transferring assets “with connections to Switzerland”.

Sepp Blatter says the criminal complaint is proof FIFA has nothing to hide by not publishing the Garcia report in full -something Football Association chairman Greg Dyke and others have called for – and the full report will now be handed over to the Swiss authorities pending possible criminal proceedings.

Blatter also said there would be “no change to Judge Eckert???s statement that the investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups is concluded.”

FIFA’s statement read: “Judge Eckert has recommended that a criminal complaint be lodged with the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland in Bern. This criminal complaint has been lodged today.

“The subject of the criminal complaint is the possible misconduct of individual persons in connection with the awarding of the hosting rights of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

“In particular there seem to be grounds for suspicion that, in isolated cases, international transfers of assets with connections to Switzerland took place, which merit examination by the criminal prosecution authorities.

“Unlike FIFA???s bodies, the Swiss criminal prosecution authorities have the ability to conduct investigations under application of criminal procedural coercive measures.”

A FIFA-commissioned report into the bidding campaigns was delivered earlier this year by lawyer Garcia, but his full findings have not been made public.

Instead Eckert gave a public summary of the report last week in which he said there were no grounds to remove Russia and Qatar as hosts.

Garcia then complained Eckert’s summary was a misrepresentation of his report, and the two men are due to meet on Thursday to discuss the issue.

In the meantime Eckert has denied his summary amounted to “whitewashing”. He said: “My statement was based on the Garcia report.

“I can only work with the material contained in it, and in my view, there was insufficient clear evidence of illegal or irregular conduct that would call into question the integrity of the award process as a whole.

“However, in certain places, the report does indicate that further clarification is needed of certain circumstances. Much of this clarification work can be carried out by the FIFA Ethics Committee itself, while the remainder is the responsibility of the relevant national investigatory authorities.”

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