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Blatter cleared of corruption

Prosecutors say Blatter's hands are clean

(Keystone)

Zurich prosecutors have dropped a criminal investigation against Sepp Blatter, the Swiss head of world football's governing body, Fifa.

Blatter had been accused of corruption and mismanagement, but on Wednesday the prosecutors' office said it had found no evidence to support the claims.

After conducting interviews and examining Fifa documents, the prosecutors said “it was not possible to ascribe any punishable behaviour” to Blatter.

“This is an important day not only for him but also for Fifa and for football. What the 11 members did at the time has damaged the image of football, Fifa and not least, the president,” Markus Siegler, Fifa's head of communications, told swissinfo.

The accusations against Blatter were levelled by 11 former members of his own executive committee during the bitter run-up to this year’s Fifa presidential election.

Among the 12 formal complaints were accusations that the Fifa president had bribed third parties in an attempt to improve his chances of re-election.

“Mr Blatter has stressed several times that we should put the past behind us and look forward to the future,” Siegler said.

According to the prosecutors’ office, however, the complaints were either factually incorrect or related to actions that had the full backing of the executive committee.

“This was a dirty game that must never be repeated,” said Blatter on Wednesday.

“My good name has been cleared in all 12 matters,” added the 66-year-old Swiss. “This complaint was without foundation and... its sole intention was to prevent my re-election as Fifa president.”

Election victory

If so, it was an intention that failed. Having constantly denied the charges, Blatter was comfortably able to secure a second term of office in May after seeing off rival candidate Issa Hayatou of Cameroon.

Blatter's opponents, who included European football chief Lennart Johansson and former Fifa general-secretary Michael Zen Ruffinen, subsequently withdrew their accusations against Blatter, but the Zurich prosecutors' office insisted that the accusations would still need looking into.

Having now investigated and dismissed the claims, the office noted on Wednesday that Blatter's opponents could yet appeal against the decision to drop the charges. Blatter himself, though, seemed in little doubt as to his victory.

"I have chosen to refuse any legal redress or compensation due to me," the Fifa president concluded.

"I would rather follow the proposal of the prosecutors' office that Fifa covers the cost of this frivolous process by making a donation to a charitable organisation in the canton of Zurich."

swissinfo, Mark Ledsom in Zurich


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