FIFA lodges criminal complaint over 2018, 2022 World Cup bids
FIFA has filed a criminal complaint with the Swiss attorney general regarding potential misconduct among individuals related to the bid process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, the organization announced Tuesday.
FIFA said that it suspects improper transfer of assets through Switzerland.
"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," FIFA said.
The exact scope, nature and target of FIFA's criminal complaint is currently unclear.
The announcement comes just days after the FIFA Ethics Committee released a summary of its investigation into the bid process for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments. FIFA cleared Russia and Qatar, saying that neither country would lose hosting rights for 2018 and 2022, respectively.
But former FBI director Michael Garcia, who led FIFA's investigation and wrote the full report -- which is not public -- challenged FIFA Ethics Committee chairman Hans-Joachim Eckert's summary of Garcia's own report, saying that it "contains numerous incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts."
Despite FIFA's decision to lodge a criminal complaint, Blatter still holds that FIFA's investigation into the 2018 and 2022 World Cups is closed, according to the BBC. But in an interview published on FIFA's website, Eckert said "there are indications of potential illegal or irregular conduct in certain areas."
Eckert also pushed back against Garcia's assertion that his report was misconstrued.
I would like to point out that not once did my statement involve a so-called “whitewashing” of the award process with regard to the various allegations and assumptions made, contrary to what has been claimed in some quarters. 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.
FIFA commissioned its investigation into the bid process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups amid widespread allegations of corruption. But while Eckert's summary of the report found some instances of misconduct, he wrote that the bid process was not flawed enough overall to merit reconsideration.
“The potentially problematic facts and circumstances identified by the report regarding the Qatar 2022 bid were, all in all, not suited to compromise the integrity of the … bidding process as a whole,” Eckert said.
- Stanley Kay