Swiss target world soccer chief Blatter in criminal probe

Fri Sep 25, 2015 4:45pm EDT
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By Brian Homewood and Mark Hosenball

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into Sepp Blatter, the head of world soccer 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 organization'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 canceled a Blatter press conference at 15 minutes' notice, offering no explanation.   Continued...

British comedian known as Lee Nelson (unseen) throws banknotes at FIFA President Sepp Blatter as he arrives for a news conference after the Extraordinary FIFA Executive Committee Meeting at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland July 20, 2015. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann