MP urges Serious Fraud Office to act on FIFA
Conservative MP Damian Collins says reports that Chuck Blazer agreed to take a tiny, secret microphone into meetings with other football officials should be enough for the SFO to now investigate.
The New York Daily News has reported that Blazer, the American former FIFA executive committee member, agreed to take a bug hidden inside a key ring into meetings, some of which took place in London. He was under investigation by the FBI and tax authorities for millions in unpaid taxes, the newspaper said.
Those he invited to the meetings included Russia 2018 organising committee chief Alexei Sorokin and Frank Lowy, the head of the Australian 2022 bid, but it is not known whether they did actually meet Blazer.
The SFO said last week it does not have the jurisdiction to investigate World Cup bidding but Collins believes the latest reports on the FBI should make it reconsider.
•MP Jim Murphy says the World Cup in Qatar “should not be built on the backs of workers’ misery and blood” and should be investigated.Collins told Press Association Sport: “It’s like something out of a novel, real cloak-and-dagger stuff, and it’s tragic for football the FBI are now apparently resorting to such tactics to get to the truth.“If the FBI investigation includes meetings that Chuck Blazer held in London during the Olympics, then that should come under the jurisdiction of the SFO.“The SFO can also investigate organisations with commercial interests in the UK and that would definitely include FIFA.”US attorney Michael Garcia has finished his investigation into bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, won by Russia and Qatar respectively. England also bid for the 2018 tournament but were eliminated in the first round of voting.Garcia’s report is now being studied by the head of FIFA’s ethics adjudicatory chamber, German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, but he has said he will not publish it in full.• Leaders: Qatar 2022 corruption exposes rot at Fifa
Collins wants the SFO to demand FIFA send it a copy of the Garcia report.
He said: “The SFO would have reasonable grounds to request to see the Garcia report. What FIFA has to realise is if it is sitting on evidence of bribery and corruption it could be in breach of international law.”
In a letter to Collins last week, SFO director David Green said it would keep the case under review but questioned whether it had jurisdiction to act.
Green wrote: “The allegations that have occurred so far are against non-UK nationals and the alleged conduct took place outside of the UK. FIFA is as you know based in Switzerland.
“I can however assure you that the SFO will continue to keep the jurisdictional position under review.”