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Swiss banks have reported suspicions of money laundering by soccer’s governing body FIFA.
Local prosecutors are investigating 53 cases of possible money laundering in their inquiry into bidding for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups.
Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber said the incidents had been reported by Swiss banks.
He said his office was analyzing a “huge amount” of seized FIFA data in its inquiry.
The Swiss investigation is running in parallel to one being carried out by the US.
The 2018 and 2022 World Cups were awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively. But leading FIFA official Domenico Scala has said the awards could be cancelled if evidence emerges of bribery.
Russia and Qatar deny any wrongdoing.
FIFA is facing claims of widespread corruption after Swiss police raided a hotel in Zurich – where the soccer’s governing body is based – and arrested seven of its top executives last month.
The seven were held at the request of the US DoJ which has charged 14 current and former FIFA officials and associates on charges of “rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted” corruption.
The charges follow a three-year inquiry by the FBI.
Also in May, Swiss prosecutors opened separate criminal proceedings “against persons unknown on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and of money laundering” in connection with the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
However, until now, much less has been revealed about the Swiss investigation than the inquiry being led by the FBI.
Michael Lauber told a news conference that the investigation was “huge and complex on many levels” and would take a long time.
“We note positively that banks in Switzerland did fulfill their duties to file suspicious activity reports. Partly in addition to 104 banking relations already known to the authorities, banks announced 53 suspicious banking relations via the anti-money-laundering framework of Switzerland,” he said.
Michael Lauber said he did not rule out interviews with FIFA president Sepp Blatter as part of his investigation.
Sepp Blatter has denied any wrongdoing and announced earlier this month that he will resign.
The attorney said his investigation was separate from that being carried out by the FBI and that documents and data would not be shared automatically with the US.
Michael Lauber added: “The world of football needs to be patient. By its nature, this investigation will take more than the legendary 90 minutes.”
A FIFA taskforce has recommended the 2022 World Cup in Qatar should take place in November and December.
Key football officials met in Doha to discuss a number of options following fears a summer event would endanger the health of players and fans.
Summer temperatures in Qatar can exceed 40C (104F) while those in November and December drop to around 25C (77F).
Today’s recommendation is expected to be ratified by FIFA’s executive committee in Zurich on March 19 and 20.
Taskforce chief Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa also recommended that the 2022 tournament should be shortened by a few days.
There has already been speculation that the tournament could start on November 26 and end on December 23.
However, FIFA has already said there are no plans to reduce the size of the tournament from 32 teams or 64 matches.
The other dates under consideration were May and January-February.
In a statement, FIFA said a number of options had been discussed but felt that November-December was the best one because:
- A January-February tournament would clash with Winter Olympics
- The month of Ramadan begins on April 2 in 2022
- Hot conditions prevail from May to September in Qatar
FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke said there were “pros and cons” for all options but said the “one solution” was November and December.
Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa added: “We are very pleased that, after careful consideration of the various opinions and detailed discussions with all stakeholders, we have identified what we believe to be the best solution for the 2018-2024 international match calendar and football in general.
“It was a challenging task and I want to thank all members of the football community for their productive input and constructiveness in helping to find a solution that we believe can work for everyone.”
FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce said moving the World Cup to the winter was a “common sense” decision but that a final on December 23 would be too close to Christmas and the traditional festive matches.
He said a tournament in November and December would “cause a lot of disruption” but added: “It is eight years away and people should have enough time to make it work.”
Many of Europe’s top leagues wanted an April-May solution to minimize disruption to their domestic programs.
There is also the Champions League and Europa League to consider, with group games usually taking place in November and December.
However, European governing body UEFA came out in support of the taskforce recommendation.
It issued a statement insisting it “sees no major issues in rescheduling its competitions for the 2022/23 season”.
African officials agree with the taskforce’s recommendation, despite the fact they will almost certainly have to move the 2023 African Cup of Nations from its January-February slot.
Confederation of African Football’s director of communications Junior Binyam said it was backing the proposal “100%”.
As for North America, the Major League Soccer season in the United States will be unaffected given it runs from March until the end of October.
Average temperatures in November are around 29C (84F), dropping to around 25C (77F) by mid-December, slightly cooler than the 35C (95F) averages in May.
Tournament organizers had planned to use air-cooling technology they claimed would lower temperatures within grounds to about 23C (73F).
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World football’s governing body, Federation Internationale de Fooball Association (FIFA), agreed to publish a “legally appropriate version” of a report into allegations of World Cup bidding corruption.
However, FIFA insisted Russia and Qatar will stay as hosts of the 2018 and 2022 tournaments respectively.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter said he asked the executive committee to vote in favor of publishing the report.
“We have always been determined the truth should be known,” he said.
“That is, after all, why we set up an independent ethics committee with an investigatory chamber that has all necessary means to undertake investigations on its own initiative.”
Only a disputed summary of Michael Garcia’s 430-page report into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups has so far been published.
Releasing the full report, which is likely be heavily redacted to preserve witness confidentiality, is a change in FIFA policy.
However, it will only be published once ongoing investigations into five individuals are completed.
“We need to ensure that we respect the rules of our organization and that we do not breach confidentiality in a way that will prevent people from speaking out in the future,” added Sepp Blatter.
The 78-year-old Swiss, seeking a fifth term as president, insisted later that there was no reason for Russia and Qatar to lose their rights to stage future World Cups.
“At the current time, there is no reason to go back on our decisions,” he told a news conference, speaking in German.
“The two World Cups are in the calendar, the only thing missing is the precise dates for 2022, but these two World Cups will take place.”
Addressing Qatar specifically, Sepp Blatter added that only an “earthquake” could change FIFA’s decision to hold the 2022 tournament in the Gulf state.
“It would really need an earthquake, extremely important new elements to go back on this World Cup in Qatar,” he said.
The Ameican lawyer, Michael Garcia, was appointed FIFA’s independent ethics investigator in 2012 and spent two years investigating all nine bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups following claims of corruption and collusion.
Michael Garcia travelled the world speaking to bid officials and appealing for evidence of wrongdoing.
He eventually submitted a report to FIFA in September 2014.
FIFA subsequently released a 42-page summary that cleared Russia and Qatar of corruption.
However, Michael Garcia was unhappy with it, claiming it was “incomplete and erroneous”.
Earlier this week, Michael Garcia resigned, citing “lack of leadership” at FIFA.
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Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has submitted a criminal complaint to Switzerland’s attorney general after a two-year investigation into possible World Cup corruption.
The complaint concerns individuals linked to awarding the hosting rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
However, FIFA said the move does not impact negatively on the decision to name Russia and Qatar as hosts.
FIFA ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert maintains there is not enough evidence to question the entire bidding process.
Last week, Hans-Joachim Eckert released a 42-page report that cleared Russia and Qatar of wrongdoing, confirming their status as hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups respectively.
That report drew criticism from Michael Garcia, the American lawyer who spent two years investigating allegations of corruption.
He claimed it contained “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations” and said he would be appealing to FIFA.
FIFA continues to reject calls for Michael Garcia’s full findings to be published.
“We have examined this matter very carefully from a legal point of view,” said FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
“The result was clear: If FIFA were to publish the report, we would be violating our own association law as well as state law.”
FIF is facing new allegations of corruption over its controversial decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.
The Sunday Times has obtained millions of secret documents – emails, letters and bank transfers – which it alleges are proof that the disgraced Qatari football official Mohamed Bin Hammam made payments totaling $5 million to football officials in return for their support for the Qatar bid.
Qatar 2022 and Mohamed Bin Hammam have always strenuously denied the former FIFA vice-president actively lobbied on their behalf in the run-up to the vote in December 2010.
But, according to emails obtained by the Sunday Times, it is now clear that Mohamed Bin Hammam, 65, was lobbying on Qatar’s behalf at least a year before the decision.
The documents also show how Mohamed Bin Hammam was making payments direct to football officials in Africa to allegedly buy their support for Qatar in the contest.
Qatar strongly denies any wrongdoing and insists that Mohamed Bin Hammam never had any official role supporting the bid and always acted independently from the Qatar 2022 campaign.
Mohamed Bin Hammam allegedly made payments totaling $5 million to football officials in return for their support for the Qatar bid
When approached by the Sunday Times to respond to their claims, Mohamed Bin Hammam’s son Hamad Al Abdulla declined to comment on his behalf.
Although the vast majority of the officials did not have a vote, the Sunday Times alleges Mohamed Bin Hammam’s strategy was to win a groundswell of support for the Qatari bid which would then influence the four African FIFA executive committee members who were able to take part in the election.
The Sunday Times also alleges that it has documents which prove Mohamed Bin Hammam paid 305,000 Euros ($410,000) to cover the legal expenses of another former FIFA executive committee member from Oceania, Reynald Temarii.
Reynald Temarii, from Tahiti, was unable to vote in the contest as he had already been suspended by FIFA after he was caught out by a Sunday Times sting asking bogus American bid officials for money in return for his support.
But the paper now alleges that Mohamed Bin Hammam provided him with financial assistance to allow him to appeal against the FIFA suspension, delaying his removal from the executive committee and blocking his deputy David Chung from voting in the 2022 election.
The publication claims that had David Chung been allowed to vote he would have supported Qatar’s rivals Australia. Instead there was no representative from Oceania allowed to vote, a decision which may have influenced the outcome in Qatar’s favor.
The paper also makes fresh allegations about the relationship between Mohamed Bin Hammam and his disgraced FIFA ally Jack Warner, from Trinidad.
Although Jack Warner was forced to resign as a FIFA vice-president in 2011, after it was proved he helped Mohamed Bin Hammam bribe Caribbean football officials in return for their support in his bid to oust the long-standing FIFA president Sepp Blatter, the paper says it has evidence which shows more than $1.6 million was paid by Bin Hammam to Warner, including $450,000 in the period before the vote.
The new allegations will place FIFA under fresh pressure to re-run the vote for the 2022 World Cup, which was held in conjunction with the vote for the 2018 tournament.
FIFA’s chief investigator Michael Garcia is already conducting a long-running inquiry into allegations of corruption and wrongdoing during the 2018/22 decisions. He is due to meet senior officials from the Qatar 2022 organizing committee in Oman on Monday.
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