FIFA president Joseph Blatter and European supremo Michel Platini are under investigation by the ruling body’s ethics committee over a payment from 2011 revealed in a Swiss criminal investigation, dpa learnt on Sunday.
The committee is looking into a “disloyal payment’’ of 2 million Swiss francs (dollars) Platini received from FIFA in 2011 for work done between 1999 and 2002.
The issue was revealed in a statement from Switzerland’s Attorney General on Friday in which the start of a criminal investigation against Blatter was announced.
Apart apart from the payment the probe involves a contract, likely on TV rights, with the Caribbean football union from 2005.
Blatter was interrogated by Swiss police and the UEFA boss Platini heard as a witness. Platini said there was nothing wrong about the payment.
Blatter’s lawyer did not refer to the Platini payment but said the TV deal, which investigators believe was too low and thus denied FIFA higher income, was according to the rules and sanctioned by those routinely involved in such issues.
It is unclear whether Blatter 79, faces a suspension from the ethics committee and he had not resigned by Sunday in spite of widespread calls to do so in the wake of the Swiss probe on suspicion of “mismanagement – and – alternatively – misappropriation.’’
Blatter’s former adviser, Klaus J Stoehlker, told the Schweiz am Sonntag paper, a resignation is “no issue’’ and that Blatter is not concerned about the probe.
Blatter was re-elected for a fifth term on May 29 but said four days later he would lay down his mandate at an extraordinary FIFA congress which has now been scheduled for Feb. 26.
Platini is among the candidates seeking the presidency, while Cameroon’s Issa Hayatou would act as caretaker in his capacity as senior vice president until February should Blatter resign or be suspended.
Former FIFA anti-corruption expert Mark Pieth meanwhile told the Sunday edition of the Neue Zuercher Zeitung that FIFA should in the case of Blatter’s resignation elect an interim president “who comes from within its ranks, is acceptable and should stay on for lets say two years to calm things down.’’
Pieth named former FIFA executive Theo Zwanziger as a possible candidate, naming him “involved in reform, behaving with integrity and not shy of making decisions.’’
He said in another interview with the Blick paper that Zwanziger would also strip Qatar of the 2022 World Cup.
“If you elect Theo Zwanziger – what I hope – as interim president for two years then he will prevent Qatar for labour law reasons,’’ Pieth said.
Qatar is a controversial host since being chosen by the FIFA executive and heavily criticised by human rights organisations over the treatment of migrant workers and a number of deaths on World Cup related construction sites.
The choice also forced FIFA to change the international match calendar to stage the World Cup in winter because of the intense summer heat, with the dates set Friday between Nov. 21 and Dec. 18, 2022.
The election of Qatar and Russia (2018) by FIFA is also subject of the investigation by the Swiss authorities