Blatter could face FIFA ethics investigation

Sat Sep 26, 2015 3:46pm EDT
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By Simon Evans

(Reuters) - FIFA President Sepp Blatter, already facing a criminal investigation from Swiss prosecutors, may now come under scrutiny from his organization's own ethics investigators if they find evidence of potential wrongdoing, according to FIFA's ethics procedure.

On Friday, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) said it had opened a criminal investigation into Blatter on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and misappropriation of funds.

While Blatter, who denies wrongdoing, has not been arrested and no charges have been laid against him, FIFA's chief ethics investigator, Cornel Borbely, will examine the facts of the case before deciding whether to launch a formal probe into Blatter.

The move by the OAG to start a criminal investigation into Blatter is the latest episode to hit the troubled global governing body for soccer. In May, 14 soccer officials and sports marketing executives were indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice on a variety of corruption charges.

A spokesman for Borbely said that the investigator was forbidden under FIFA rules from discussing the specifics of any particular case but offered an outline of the standard procedure.

"If there are facts on the table, Mr Borbely won’t hesitate for a second to open a preliminary investigation," the spokesman told Reuters late on Friday.

That preliminary investigation would not be formally announced and would consist primarily of a search for evidence - which in Blatter's case would likely involve requests to the OAG for further information.

“When the preliminary investigation leads to evidence there would be a formal investigation,” he said.   Continued...

FIFA President Sepp Blatter stands in an office at the FIFA headquarters after a meeting of the FIFA executive committee in Zurich, Switzerland September 25, 2015. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann