US head of Fifa ethics committee quits

Sepp Blatter, the Swiss leader of Zurich-based Fifa, said on Wednesday that he was "surprised" by the resignation of top corruption investigator Michael Garcia over the handling of his inquiry into the Qatar and Russia World Cup bids.

US head of Fifa ethics committee quits
Photo: AFP

"I am surprised by Mr Garcia's decision.," Blatter said in a statement released following the decision of the US lawyer to quit as head of Fifa's ethics committee investigatory committee.

"The work of the Ethics Committee will nonetheless continue."

The Fifa president added the inquiry into the Qatar and Russia World Cups "will be a central part of the discussions" at a Fifa executive committee meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, on Thursday and Friday.
Jérôme Champagne, a former Fifa official who has said he will stand against Blatter for the Fifa presidency next year, called Garcia's resignation "a step backwards" for the governing body.
"We needed to know what happened before and after the December 2nd 2010 vote," Champagne said in a statement.. 

"Today more than ever we need to know," he said.

"When will the facts be known fully, transparently and above all without suspicion?" 

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Trial over 2006 German World Cup corruption opens in Switzerland

Three former German football officials and ex-FIFA Secretary General Urs Linsi went on trial on Monday in Switzerland over suspicions that Germany bought votes to obtain the 2006 World Cup.

Trial over 2006 German World Cup corruption opens in Switzerland

The three defendants have indicated that they will not be present at the hearing in Bellinzona for a variety of reasons, including fear of travelling because of coronavirus contagion.

Swiss Linsi, 70, former German Football Association (DFB) presidents Wolfgang Niersbach, 69, and Theo Zwanziger, 74, and 78-year-old former DFB General Secretary Horst R. Schmidt are being prosecuted for “fraud”.

They are accused by the Swiss Federal Prosecutor's Office (BA) of concealing from the DFB the true destination of a transfer of 6.7 million euros ($7.6 million today), paid in 2005 by the organising committee to former Adidas boss, the late Robert Louis-Dreyfus, via FIFA.

The case of former World Cup organising committee chairman Franz Beckenbauer is being heard separately because of the former Germany captain's poor health.

The investigation was prompted by a report in German publication Der Spiegel in 2015 that Germany had used a secret fund of 10 million Swiss francs (6.7 million euros at the time) to buy votes and obtain the rights to host the competition at the expense of South Africa.

Beckenbauer is suspected of having asked Louis-Dreyfus, to contribute to this fund shortly before the vote on the host in the summer of 2000.

Louis-Dreyfus was allegedly reimbursed by the German Football Association on the pretext of expenses related to a FIFA gala evening, which ever took place.

Zwanziger, Niersbach and Schmidt have also been charged with tax fraud in Germany and the case is expected to come to trial in the coming months. cpb/pb/td