Things are going from bad to worse for the recently deposed FIFA president.
Back in September, Swiss prosecutors expanded their investigation of Sepp Blatter and others in FIFA’s inner circle to include possible criminal charges. Prosecutors believe that the under-the-table payment Blatter made to disgraced UEFA chief Michel Platini, for which he was banned from FIFA for eight years and effectively removed from his post, was egregious enough that it may have broken Swiss law.
Yesterday, the BBC reported that a whistleblower has come forward to provide evidence relevant to the criminal proceedings against Blatter. A spokesperson for the prosecutors said that this is potentially a huge development in the investigation.
“The Swiss Attorney General’s office received valuable information from a testimony that might be very helpful.”
In addition to the Platini payment, the investigation is focusing on a TV rights deal from 2005 between FIFA and former CONCACAF chief Jack Warner. The deal represented a huge financial windfall for Warner, and is part of an extensive portfolio of corruption and wrongdoing during his career as a football executive. The Swiss criminal investigation is trying to determine if Blatter violated his ethical and fiduciary commitments to FIFA in his capacity as president by brokering the deal with Warner.
Meanwhile, Blatter is due to appear at FIFA headquarters on February 16th to appeal the eight year ban handed down last month. The hearing will be held just ten days before the election to name a new president. Blatter’s attorney Thomas Renggli said that if his appeal directly to FIFA is unsuccessful his client will take it to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. For their part, FIFA investigators will be pushing to have the ban extended.