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FIFA hands over corruption evidence

Press Association logoPress Association 31/03/2017 Matt Slater

FIFA has completed its 22-month investigation into the corruption scandal that brought world football's governing body to its knees, handing over more than 20,000 pages of exhibits to Swiss authorities.

Launched soon after the arrest of several top officials at a Zurich hotel before the FIFA Congress in May 2015, the investigation has been conducted on FIFA's behalf by American law firm Quinn Emanuel and Swiss counterparts NKF.

Between them, they have reviewed more than 2.5million documents, interviewed dozens of witnesses and written reports totalling more than 1300 pages.

All have been lodged with the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG), which will share everything with the United States Department of Justice (DOJ).

"FIFA committed to conducting a thorough and comprehensive investigation of the facts so we could hold wrongdoers within football accountable and co-operate with the authorities," FIFA president Gianni Infantino said on Friday.

"We have now completed that investigation and handed the evidence over to the authorities, who will continue to pursue those who enriched themselves and abused their positions of trust in football.

"FIFA will now return its focus to the game, for fans and players throughout the world."

None of this work, however, can be shared publicly, as the American and Swiss legal cases are ongoing and FIFA, which has been treated as a victim of the various financial crimes so far, has been strongly warned not to interfere or prejudice that process.

But at the end of April, FIFA will release the details of the compliance, finance and governance audits that Infantino announced at his first FIFA Congress as president in May last year.

As these investigations were more about FIFA's internal system, as opposed to any exploration of criminal activity, Infantino is keen to demonstrate that football's international federation has learned lessons from the scandals of his predecessor Sepp Blatter's era.

Allegations of bribery and fraud have surrounded FIFA for decades but they threatened to bring the entire organisation down in 2015 when 34 football officials and businessmen were indicted by the DOJ on charges related to broadcast contracts, sponsorship deals and tickets in North, South and Central American football.

This prompted Swiss authorities to open their own inquiry into FIFA's activities and separate inquiries have been launched in Australia, Costa Rica and Germany, with the focus spreading to FIFA elections and World Cup bids.

Collectively they have already accounted for many of the biggest names in football over the last few decades.

Blatter, ex-FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke, former UEFA boss Michel Platini and ex-CONCACAF bosses Chuck Blazer, Jack Warner and Jeffrey Webb are just some of the game's power-brokers who have been toppled and disgraced along the way.

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