FIFA shelves bidding for 2026 World Cup, Swiss seize data

Wed Jun 10, 2015 3:21pm EDT
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By Gabriela Baczynska and Joshua Franklin

SAMARA, Russia/ZURICH (Reuters) - Scandal-plagued FIFA postponed the bidding for the right to host the 2026 World Cup on Wednesday and Swiss authorities took possession of computer data from the global soccer body that a source said included records from the office of its President Sepp Blatter.

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said during an event in Russia that it would be "nonsense" to start the bidding process for the 2026 tournament for the time being.

The FBI are investigating bribery and corruption at FIFA, including scrutiny of how soccer's governing body awarded World Cup hosting rights to Russia, which won the bidding for 2018, and Qatar, which is due to host the finals in 2022.

Swiss authorities are conducting their own probe into suspected mismanagement and money laundering in connection with the award of the two tournaments.

The Swiss Attorney General (OAG) confirmed that "FIFA handed over today seized IT data to the OAG".

A spokesman added: "As already communicated, the OAG has opened criminal proceedings against persons unknown."

A source close to the Swiss investigation said records from Blatter's office were part of the probe. The BBC said data was also taken from the offices of Valcke and FIFA's head of finance.

The OAG, which took data and documents from FIFA last month, will speak with Blatter and other officials if they are of interest to its investigation, the spokesman said.   Continued...

FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke speaks as he attends a news conference during his visit to Samara, one of the 2018 World Cup host cities, Russia, June 10, 2015. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev