Federal prosecutors in Switzerland have dropped one of the two cases against former FIFA president Sepp Blatter related to the World Cup broadcast rights awarded in the Caribbean in 2005, Reuters reported.
There is still a criminal case against Blatter that alleges he arranged a payment to the then-president of UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, for uncontracted salary in relation to the World Cup bids in Russia and Qatar.
The decision comes on the heels of United States federal prosecutors in Brooklyn charging two former FOX marketing executives in their own ongoing FIFA investigation into corruption. For the first time, they also plainly stated in an indictment that several FIFA executives received bribes for awarding the World Cup bids.
Swiss end corruption case against Blatter
The attorney general’s office said it would “discontinue” the investigation into how Blatter and FIFA awarded the TV rights.
It did not give a reason, per Reuters.
"We confirm the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland ...considers the criminal investigation into the partial facts and allegations concerning the contractual relationship with the CFU to be complete and ready for conclusion," it said in a statement.
The case was opened in September 2015 and prompted Blatter’s ouster from the organization. He is serving a six-year FIFA ban from soccer.
Blatter allegedly sells cheap World Cup rights
The investigation started when a Swiss broadcaster published a 2005 FIFA contract that awarded the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) the regional rights to the 2010 and 2014 World Cups. The cost was a combined $600,000, far below market value.
Jack Warner, the former FIFA vice president, licensed the rights to a company controlled by his family. They were sold to a Jamaican broadcaster for a reported $20 million in profit.
Warner had claimed in 2011, after he was no longer with the organization, that FIFA gave him the rights at a low cost in exchange for helping Blatter with the FIFA presidential elections.
FIFA said the deal required a 50-50 profit share between them and the CFU.
Second Swiss corruption case still open
The second case brought by Swiss federal prosecutors alleges that the 84-year-old Blatter arranged a large payment to then-UEFA president Michel Platini.
The approximately $2.06 million was given in February 2011. It was not a part of a salary contract. Critics have accused Blatter of making the payment for help securing Qatar’s World Cup bid.
Platini, a three-time Ballon d’Or winner, is serving an eight-year suspension from soccer-related activities handed by down by the FIFA ethics committee in late 2015.
U.S. issues charges in FIFA corruption cases
Earlier in the week, prosecutors in Brooklyn announced charges against Hernan Lopez and Carlos Martinez, former executives with 21st Century Fox.
Per the attorney’s release, prosecutors said their involvement helped them “obtain confidential bidding information” for the U.S. rights to the 2018 and 2022 men’s World Cups. Fox won the rights to those tournaments in 2011 and won an extension in 2015 that runs through 2026.
Later that same day, U.S. federal investigators said for the first time several FIFA executives received bribes to give the men’s World Cup in Russia and Qatar in 2018 and 2022, respectively. The action was controversial and it’s long been established there were bribes.
Warner was charged with allegedly receiving bribes to vote for Russia.
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