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FIFA President

Five questions to the FIFA President

(FIFA.com)
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter speaks during a ceremony held at the Saudi Football Federation on the night of the 22nd Gulf Cup football tournament
© AFP

After FIFA President Blatter lodged a criminal complaint with the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, he answered five questions related to the issue. **

*Earlier today, you lodged a criminal complaint with the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland upon the recommendation of Judge Hans-Joachim Eckert. In view of the report from Michael Garcia, were there any indications of possible criminal conduct by people in relation to the awarding of the hosting rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups?
*
I lodged the criminal complaint upon the recommendation of Judge Eckert. I cannot, however, comment on any possible criminal offences. I am not a lawyer. I also was not the addressee of the investigatory report, which I have never seen. However, given Judge Eckert’s recommendation, it was my duty – as the President of FIFA – to lodge the complaint.

*Does that not mean, though, that the federation’s bodies have performed poorly in examining the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups because state authorities are now dealing with – or having to deal with – the Garcia report?
*
I have every faith in the work of the independent chambers of the FIFA Ethics Committee and their chairmen. They have done good work until now, and I have no doubt whatsoever that they will continue to do so. I must note, however, that the Ethics Committee has certain limitations. As a body of a private institution, it does not have the same options as a public prosecutor. But when the chairman of the adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee – himself a judge – recommends calling upon state authorities after a certain point, then of course I listen to him.

*Does that mean that the Ethics Committee has gone as far as it could in this matter?
*
I have no doubt that the Ethics Committee has done all it possibly could under the FIFA Statutes to shed light on the issues surrounding the awarding of the World Cups. In such situations, however, the options within the federation are obviously exhausted at some point. Michael Garcia has delivered his report, and Judge Eckert has assessed it and issued his statement on it. He has also concluded that the Office of the Attorney General needs to conduct further investigations into certain issues. That is no doubt correct, and I am relying upon his judgement here. Michael Garcia can of course still conduct further internal FIFA investigations into individuals if he deems this to be necessary in the light of his report. Furthermore, there is no change to Judge Eckert’s statement that the investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups™ is concluded.

*Does the step that you have taken today represent a commitment towards transparency with regard to the much-discussed issues surrounding the awarding of the World Cups?
*
Of course. If we had anything to hide, we would hardly be taking this matter to the Office of the Attorney General. FIFA’s internal bodies have done all they can within the scope of their capabilities, and they are continuing with their work. The matter will now also be looked at by an independent, state body, which shows that FIFA is not opposed to transparency.

*FIFA has been criticised for exactly that reason, namely that it is not transparent because it has not published Garcia’s report...
*
Once again, we have examined this matter very, very carefully from a legal point of view. The result was clear: if FIFA were to publish the report, we would be violating our own association law as well as state law. The people who are demanding in the media and elsewhere that FIFA publish the report are obviously of the opinion that FIFA should or must ignore the law in this regard. We obviously cannot do that. FIFA’s headquarters are in a constitutional state, and we therefore have to abide by the country’s laws.

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