KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: FIFA’s pursuit of former president Sepp Blatter has been ramped up further with the lodging of a criminal complaint for suspected criminal mismanagement by its former management team over the long-term lease on the home of the world football museum at the Haus zur Enge.
A FIFA statement said the complaint, to the Zurich’s cantonal prosecutor, targeted Blatter “together with other persons”.
FIFA issues are keeping the Swiss judicial authorities busy. Current president Gianni Infantino is the focus of other inquiries over a number of unrecorded meetings with the former Attorney-General Michael Lauber.
The latest FIFA complaint includes the entire museum project costs at CHF 500m and identifies that the previous administration poured CHF 140m into renovating and refurbishing a building that the organisation does not own, while also locking itself into a long-term rental agreement on unfavourable terms.
FIFA posits that the deal will cost CHF 360m by the date of expiration in 2045. It added: “That is half a billion Swiss Francs that could and should have been channeled into the development of global football.”
The concept of a world football museum was kicked around within FIFA for many years before its eventual creation near Zurich city centre in 2016.
Financial projections were based on the commercial rental of 34 apartments in the rest of the property. The FIFA statement makes no mention of these revenues or projections.
Alasdair Bell, FIFA’s deputy secretary-general (administration), said: “Given the massive costs associated with this Museum, as well as the general way of working of the previous FIFA management, a forensic audit was conducted in order to find out what really happened here.
“That audit revealed a wide range of suspicious circumstances and management failures, some of which may be criminal in nature and which therefore need to be properly investigated by the relevant authorities.”
Blatter has denied all wrongdoing in not only this but in two criminal cases involving controversial payments to former UEFA president Michel Platini in 2011 and to former FIFA vice president Jack Warner.