FIFA Chief Now Under Criminal Investigation

By Swiss authorities
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 25, 2015 1:12 PM CDT
FIFA Chief Now Under Criminal Investigation
In this Dec. 19, 2014 file photo FIFA President Sepp Blatter gestures as he attends a press conference in Marrakech, Morocco.    (Christophe Ena)

FIFA President Sepp Blatter was placed under criminal investigation by Swiss authorities today as a probe into soccer corruption reached the highest levels and left his grip on the top job in peril. The Swiss attorney general's office opened proceedings against Blatter for possible criminal mismanagement and misappropriation of FIFA money. Authorities also searched Blatter's office and seized data. The announcements came as FIFA wrapped up a two-day executive committee meeting and marked another stunning day of turmoil for the governing body and Blatter, who have been targeted by American and Swiss investigations into corruption. The 79-year-old Blatter is set to step down in February as a result of those probes, but the opening of formal proceedings against him could lead the FIFA ethics committee to provisionally suspend him from duty.

The latest allegations also threaten UEFA President Michel Platini, Blatter's onetime protege and favorite to succeed him in February's election. Platini was questioned as a witness today about taking a "disloyal payment" of 2 million Swiss francs (now $2.04 million) of FIFA money in February 2011. Switzerland's attorney general alleged the money was paid nine years later for Platini's work as Blatter's football adviser at FIFA from 1999-2002. Under Swiss law, a payment is classified disloyal if it is against the best interest of the employer—in this case FIFA. The Swiss allegations suggest authorities suspect Blatter of criminal mismanagement of FIFA money to shore up his own power base—political enrichment, if not taking money himself. Click for more. (More Sepp Blatter stories.)

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