Exclusive: FIFA team targets match-fixing, 'many' cases of corruption

Fri Aug 21, 2015 11:37am EDT
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By Simon Evans and Brian Homewood

ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA's independent ethics committee is probing "many" cases of suspected corruption, is accelerating its investigations and expects life bans for all but minor offences, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Investigators are probing three main areas: cases related to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process, the distribution and use of development funds and match-fixing, which the source described as soccer's "big story".

Ethics investigators say the days when corruption offenders could expect to receive only three-month bans were gone, the source told Reuters.

"There are many more cases than people imagined and they are determined to pursue them, be prepared," the source said.

The investigations are separate from a Swiss probe into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup awards to Russia and Qatar, which deny any wrongdoing, and a U.S. investigation which has indicted 14 people, including former FIFA officials, on charges of money laundering and racketeering.

Unlike those two probes, FIFA's investigators do not have police powers.

Although suspected corruption among high-ranking officials has attracted the media spotlight and concerned sponsors, FIFA ethics investigators are believed to regard match-fixing as the biggest threat to the sport as well as the most difficult to combat.

"Match-fixing is the big story at the moment," said the source, adding that it was a crime that went beyond the boundaries of sport and needed collaboration from public authorities around the world.   Continued...

Journalists are reflected in a logo at the FIFA headquarters after a meeting of the executive committee in Zurich, in a file photo. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann