FIFA President Sepp Blatter should face a criminal investigation for selling under-valued World Cup television rights to Trinidadian politician Jack Warner, the governing body’s former anti-corruption advisor said Monday.
Referring to the investigation being led by Switzerland’s attorney general, Mark Pieth, a Swiss professor of criminal law, said Blatter “has to defend himself against a form of embezzlement charges.”
Swiss broadcaster SRF on Friday published a Blatter-signed FIFA contract from 2005 that sold the Warner-controlled Caribbean Football Union rights to the 2010 and 2014 World Cups for a combined $600,000. Warner, then a longstanding FIFA vice president and Blatter supporter, licensed the rights to a company controlled by his family. They were then sold for a reported $20 million to a Jamaica-based broadcaster.
The contract document appeared to confirm Warner’s claim in 2011, that FIFA let him control cheap World Cup rights in exchange for helping Blatter win presidential elections. Warner was indicted in May in a U.S. probe of soccer corruption implicating senior FIFA officials, though it is the separate Swiss case which could threaten Blatter directly.
FIFA defended the Caribbean rights deal over the weekend, claiming that it required a 50-50 profit share between the CFU and FIFA when the rights were sold on. The TV deal was terminated in July 2011, and FIFA reclaimed the 2014 World Cup rights, after Warner resigned his positions to avoid sanctions in an election bribery case.
FIFA said the Caribbean body, long controlled by Warner, “made several breaches to the contract and failed to meet its financial obligations.”