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FIFA president Blatter facing criminal proceedings - Switzerland's Attorney General

The Swiss attorney general's office says it has opened a criminal procedure against FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who is suspected of theft. The FIFA HQ and the president’s office have been searched and data has been seized, it added.

Blatter is being investigated on the suspicion of criminal mismanagement and misappropriation, the Swiss statement said.

He is suspected of illegally paying the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) President Michel Platini 2 million Swiss francs out of FIFA’s resources, the Swiss statement said.

Platini himself provided evidence of this to the FIFA corruption case investigators, Reuters cites a law enforcement source as saying

FIFA confirmed on Friday that Swiss authorities had seized data at the world soccer body’s HQ adding that it has complied with all the investigators' requests.

Blatter was questioned after FIFA's executive committee meeting on Friday, according to the Swiss federal office.

FIFA added that it will continue cooperating with investigators.

"Since 27 May 2015, FIFA has been cooperating with the Office of the Swiss Attorney General and has complied with all requests for documents, data and other information. We will continue this level of cooperation throughout the investigation," it said in a statement on Friday.

READ MORE: UEFA chief Michel Platini to stand for FIFA President – UEFA website

Blatter, a 79-year old Swiss citizen who has headed FIFA for 17 years. The next is scheduled for February 2016, and Platini is seen as one of the favourites to become the new head of world football.

The bribe was allegedly given for work performed between January 1999 and June 2002 and paid in February 2011, the statement said.

Earlier in September, huge volumes of data were collected during probes conducted by US and Swiss investigators, with 121 bank accounts coming under scrutiny, while home searches were conducted in order to obtain further evidence.

The probe was launched following a massive corruption scandal within the football’s governing body in May, which was prompted by a wave of accusations against senior FIFA figures.

Fourteen FIFA-linked officials and businessmen have been indicted by the US. They face allegations of bribery, fraud and money laundering worth more than $150 million. Seven officials were arrested in a Zurich hotel on May 27 and are expected to be extradited to the US.

Swiss prosecutors are also investigating the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar. They want to ascertain whether the votes were clean and legal.

Blatter had not been directly accused by investigators until Friday. He has denied allegations of his involvement in the bribery scandal.

Vitaly Mutko, the Russian Sports Minister and President of the Russian Football Union says that the investigation into Blatter’s alleged mismanagement will have no effect on Russia holding the World Cup in just under three years.
Speaking on Friday, he added that the launch of the criminal case was “foreseeable” because the probe is headed by US and Swiss law enforcement.

Meanwhile, Blatter's US attorney told Reuters on Friday that "no mismanagement occurred." In an e-mailed statement he claimed that Blatter had signed a contract in 2005 with the Caribbean Football Union that was "properly prepared and negotiated by the appropriate staff members of FIFA."