FIFA has issued a criminal complaint over suspected “criminal mismanagement” in a museum project set up by the governing body’s former president Sepp Blatter.
The complaint has been lodged with Zurich’s cantonal prosecutor in relation to the ‘Haus zur Enge’ project following an investigation by external experts.
FIFA’s complaint was made against Blatter, who resigned as president in 2015 amid a corruption scandal, and “other persons in relation to activities relating to the agreements that were signed in relation to the facility”.
FIFA files criminal complaint against Blatter over museum finance https://t.co/8ff9C6tfyd
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Football’s governing body say the project for the museum in downtown Zurich is set to cost them “half a billion Swiss Francs that could and should have been channeled into the development of global football”.
A FIFA statement said: “The complaint includes the entire project costs at CHF 500 million, and identifies that the previous FIFA administration poured CHF 140 million into renovating and refurbishing a building that the organisation doesn’t own, while also locking itself into a long-term rental agreement on unfavourable terms when compared to standard market rates, which, in total, will cost FIFA CHF 360 million by the date of expiration in 2045.
“That is half a billion Swiss Francs that could and should have been channeled into the development of global football.”
FIFA deputy secretary general (administration) Alasdair Bell said: “Given the massive costs associated with this museum, as well as the general way of working of the previous FIFA management, a forensic audit was conducted in order to find out what really happened here.
“That audit revealed a wide range of suspicious circumstances and management failures, some of which may be criminal in nature and which therefore need to be properly investigated by the relevant authorities.
“We came to the conclusion that we had no choice other than to report the case to state prosecutors, not least because the current management of FIFA also has fiduciary responsibilities to the organisation and we intend to live up to them, even if those before us dismally failed to.”
Lorenz Erni, Blatter’s lawyer, described the accusations as being “baseless and vehemently repudiated”.
FIFA says it will submit all documentation related to the matter to the independent Ethics Committee, so that it may instigate whatever investigation it considers appropriate given the circumstances.
Blatter was banned from all football activities for eight years, reduced to six on appeal, in 2015 over what was deemed to be a “disloyal payment” made to Michel Platini in 2011, but the 84-year-old denied any wrongdoing.