‘Blatter must face criminal probe for selling under-valued World Cup rights to Warner’

Zurich, Sep 16 (IANS) A former FIFA anti-corruption advisor is calling for a criminal investigation against president Sepp Blatter for selling under-valued World Cup television rights to Jack Warner, a former vice president of world football’s governing body.

Mark Pieth made his comments after Swiss broadcaster SRF 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, reports CMC.

Warner licensed the rights to a company controlled by his family before selling for a reported sum of about $20 million to a Jamaica-based broadcaster.

“Blatter has to defend himself against a form of embezzlement charges,” said Pieth, a Swiss professor of criminal law, on Tuesday.

“That’s a topic they need to discuss.”

In 2011, after he vacated his position as the vice president in the face of bribery accusations, Warner claimed FIFA let him control cheap World Cup rights in exchange for helping Blatter win presidential elections.

Warner was indicted in May in a United States probe of football corruption implicating senior FIFA officials.

However the sale of under-valued World Cup television rights appears to be a separate case which could threaten Blatter directly.

“They have prima facie evidence. That means they have to open an investigation,” Pieth said on the sidelines of an international meeting of federal prosecutors attended by the attorney generals of the US and Switzerland.

Meantime FIFA has defended the Caribbean rights deal, claiming that it required a 50-50 profit share between the CFU and FIFA when the rights were sold on.

According to FIFA, CFU “made several breaches to the contract and failed to meet its financial obligations”.

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.

–Indo-Asian news Service

sam/dg

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