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Swiss investigating Blatter


Swiss investigating Blatter

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ZURICH – Swiss prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into Sepp Blatter, the head of world football body FIFA, on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and misappropriation of funds, the Swiss attorney general’s office said on Friday.

It said Blatter was interrogated after a meeting of FIFA’s executive committee in Zurich, and authorities carried out a search at the organisation’s headquarters on Friday.

“The office of the FIFA President has been searched and data seized,” the office of the attorney general (OAG) said.

It was the first time that authorities investigating corruption in the world’s most popular sport had pointed the finger directly at Blatter, the 79-year-old Swiss who has run its powerful governing body for the past 17 years.

He has denied wrongdoing and his U.S. attorney said he was cooperating with the Swiss probe.

A source close to FIFA said that as Blatter has not been arrested, charged or indicted. It would probably be for him to decide whether he stays in his post until February, when he is due to step down.

However, the source said: “It is over for him now, it is finished.”

The news of the investigation broke shortly after FIFA had abruptly cancelled a Blatter press conference at 15 minutes’ notice, offering no explanation.

He had been due to speak for the first time since his number two, Jerome Valcke, was suspended last week following accusations regarding ticket sales at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Valcke denied the allegations.

In a sign of concern over the implications of the deepening investigation, Russia was quick to say that it would not affect its hosting of the 2018 World Cup, one of the biggest and most lucrative events in sport. (Reuters)