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Possibly to blunt criticism, FIFA files criminal complaint over 2018, 2022 World Cup bids

FIFA President Sepp Blatter in a Dec. 2010 file photo.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter in a Dec. 2010 file photo.  (ap)

The world's governing body for soccer, FIFA, filed a criminal complaint against unnamed individuals on Tuesday over the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests won by Russia and Qatar.

FIFA said president Sepp Blatter asked Switzerland's attorney general to investigate the behavior of the unnamed people involved in the bid campaigns.

In an apparent move to avert criticism of the organization, Blatter acted on a request by FIFA ethics judge Joachim Eckert, whose summary last week of an investigation by American prosecutor Michael Garcia was widely denounced as a "whitewash" of Russia, Qatar and FIFA officials.

Eckert concluded that any corrupt acts in the 11-nation bidding process did not justify reviewing the December 2010 votes by FIFA's executive committee.

On Tuesday, Eckert said in an interview released by FIFA that he submitted his advice of a criminal complaint "more or less at the same time" as his 42-page summary was published.

He said the complaint concerns "suspected unlawful activity in connection with Switzerland."

No details were given as to which financial or business laws might have been broken.

A FIFA statement noted that "in isolated cases, international transfers of assets with connections to Switzerland took place, which merit examination by the criminal prosecution authorities."

Eckert maintains "there is insufficient incriminating evidence" to question the FIFA board's choice of Russia and Qatar in December 2010.

Still, "there are indications of potential illegal or irregular conduct in certain areas," he said.

The criminal complaint is the latest twist in a chaotic drama playing out since Thursday.

Garcia has himself appealed to FIFA, challenging Eckert's decision to close the case against Russia and Qatar, and stating that his team's 430-page investigation reports were misrepresented by the German judge.

Garcia and Eckert are expected to meet Thursday at an undisclosed location.

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