KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS —- FIFA extended the reach of the investigation of the World Cup bid scandal by stating an intention to share its evidence with Swiss prosecutors with a view to international judicial action.
This was a dramatic signal that football administrators who thought they could evade both responsibility and punishment by walking away from the game may no longer be able to sleep soundly in their beds.
FIFA has lodged a criminal complaint against individuals connected to the bids to host the next two World Cups. The announcement came four days after publication of a controversial 42-page summry of the two-year inquiry undertaken by ethics chief Michael Garcia.
President Sepp Blatter has acted on the advice of judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, whose report cleared Russia and Qatar to host the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.
However it has become clear that Eckert has said and done a great deal more in private that he revealed in a report for media and public consumption.
He had said: “There is insufficient incriminating evidence to call into question the whole bidding process.”
But that did not mean that Garcia’s work did not uncover other evidential aspects which the legal teams considered could be considered possible illegal activity.
In a statement, FIFA said: “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.”
President Sepp Blatter, in an in-house interview, insisted the development proved FIFA believed in transparency. The move might also be seen as a riposte to Swiss politicians who have complained about the lack of juidicial control over personnel associated with the many international sorts federations based in Switzerland.
Blatter added: “If we had anything to hide, we would hardly be taking this matter to the Office of the Attorney General.”
Eckert has confirmed he advised FIFA that a criminal complaint be lodged at or around the same time he produced his report last week.
Garcia and Eckert are due to meet on Thursday to resolve disagreementrs between themselves over the German judge’s summary. Garcia has accused him of “erroneous” interpretation of facts and conclusions.
Separately a formal ethics complaint has been raised against Eckert by two ‘whistleblowers’ associated with two of the World Cup bids.
Senior former executive committees who voted on the 2018/2022 World Cups and who are now out of football include Qatari Mohamed bin Hammam (banned for life) and Brazil’s Ricardo Teixeira and ex-CONCACAF president Jack Warner – the latter pair having walked away from the game without incurring any disciplinary action.