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Russian sports minister says he is afraid of going to Switzerland due to FIFA scandal

September 28, 2015, 19:50 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Vitaly Mutko says all the "recent developments surrounding FIFA are not fair"

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Vitaly Mutko, the Russian minister of sports

Vitaly Mutko, the Russian minister of sports

© TASS/Vasiliy Ponomarev

MOSCOW, September 28. /TASS/. Vitaly Mutko, the Russian minister of sports and the president of the Russian Football Union (RFU), told journalists on Monday he was afraid of traveling to Switzerland due to recent events accompanying officials from FIFA.

"I am afraid of traveling to Switzerland already," Mutko, who is also a member of the FIFA Executive Committee, said. "All of the recent developments surrounding FIFA are not fair."

"This organization does not deserve such treatment," Mutko said. "Unfortunately, this is all to the detriment of the organization’s reputation. I would like to point out that FIFA is holding the largest sports events at the highest levels possible, contributes about a billion of US dollars into the development of football worldwide. Try naming a similar organization."

"A total of 209 national federations are enlisted in FIFA," Mutko said. "The organization, on the whole, cannot be responsible for something that was done wrong somewhere in Jamaica or Senegal. Why should be FIFA responsible for it? However, everything was done as if the responsibility is resting with it [FIFA]."

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) of Switzerland announced last Friday that it had opened criminal proceedings against FIFA President Joseph Blatter "on suspicion of criminal mismanagement as well as - alternatively - on suspicion of misappropriation."

"On the one hand, the OAG suspects that on 12 September 2005 Mr. Joseph Blatter has signed a contract with the Caribbean Football Union [with Jack Warner as the President at this time]; this contract was unfavorable for FIFA," the OAG said in a statement.

"On the other hand, there is as suspicion that, in the implementation of this agreement, Joseph Blatter also violated his fiduciary duties and acted against the interest of FIFA," the statement added.

Blatter is also suspected of a disloyal payment of 2 million Swiss francs to UEFA President Michel Platini in February 2011, the OAG said.

"On 25 September 2015, representatives of the OAG interrogated the defendant Joseph Blatter following a meeting of the FIFA Executive Committee. At the same time, Michel Platini was heard as a person asked to provide information," the statement said adding that Blatter’s office had been searched and relevant data was seized.

The FIFA Executive Committee held a two-day session on September 24-25 in Switzerland’s Zurich discussing among other important things an agenda for the FIFA’s extraordinary session, which will see the election of the organization’s new president. The session also heard a report from Francois Carrard, the chairman of the 2016 FIFA Reform Committee, which was set up on July 20.

An unprecedented corruption scandal flared up in FIFA in the morning of May 27, one day before the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich, as seven of the organization’s high-ranking officials were arrested in Switzerland on bribery, money laundering and corruption charges. The scandal involves two separate criminal proceedings.

Firstly, the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York is conducting a criminal investigation into the awarding of media, marketing and sponsorship rights for soccer tournaments in the United States and Latin America. Secondly, the Swiss Office of the Attorney General is conducting a criminal investigation into the selection of Russia as the host country for the 2018 World Cup and Qatar as the host country for 2022.

Current FIFA President Sepp Blatter, 79, was reelected for his fifth consecutive four-year presidential term on May 29, when his only rival Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan pulled out after the first round of vote.

However, addressing a news conference in Zurich on June 2, Blatter said he decided to lay down his mandate at FIFA extraordinary elective Congress. FIFA announced in July that the election of the new president would be held next year on February 26.

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