FIFA sues Blatter over £421m fraud

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FIFA have issued a complaint of “criminal mismanagement” against their former president, Sepp Blatter.

The complaint relates to the FIFA museum project in Zurich, with the complaint having been sent to the Zurich prosecutor.

The complaint targets Blatter, who resigned as FIFA president in 2015 after 17 years in the role, and other former officials.

They are alleged by FIFA to have been directly involved in activities relating to agreements to do with the museum.

FIFA’s statement claimed the project cost 500 million Swiss Francs (£421 million).

It also said “the previous FIFA administration poured CHF 140 million (£117 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”.

They added that it will cost FIFA £302 million in long-term rentals agreements by the date the agreements expire in 2045.

“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,” said FIFA deputy secretary general (administration) Alasdair Bell.

“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.”

FIFA added: “The current FIFA administration also intends to submit all documentation related to this matter to the independent Ethics Committee so that it may instigate whatever investigation it considers appropriate given the circumstances.

“In addition, FIFA will continue to cooperate with the authorities in Switzerland and elsewhere so that those people who damaged football are held accountable for their actions.”

The FIFA museum is housed in the Haus zur Enge.

The Haus zur Enge is a building that occupies 10 floors.

There are 3,000 square metres of exhibition space, events and dining areas.

There are also 34 apartments and office space with approximately 140 workstations.

In a statement to other media outlets, Blatter’s lawyer Lorenz Erni said: “The accusations are baseless and are vehemently repudiated”.

The Athletic has also contacted Blatter’s representatives for a response.

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