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FIFA completes 22-month internal graft probe

March 31, 18:44 UTC+3 MOSCOW

During the investigation, more than 2.5 million documents have been reviewed

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© EPA/ENNIO LEANZA

MOSCOW, March 31. /TASS/. The world’s governing body of football FIFA announced on Friday that it completed its almost two years long investigation into allegations of corruption within the organization and would present the results next month.

"FIFA announced today that it has completed the internal investigation it began in June 2015 after the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) and the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced investigations into allegations of criminal misconduct, bribery and corruption in world football," the statement from FIFA read.

"During the course of FIFA’s 22-month investigation, more than 2.5 million documents were reviewed and numerous key witnesses were interviewed," according to the statement. "Using the evidence obtained from the document reviews and witness interviews, FIFA’s external counsel prepared written investigative reports on issues of primary concern to the Swiss and US authorities."

"These reports, which total more than 1,300 pages and include more than 20,000 pages of exhibits, have been shared with the Swiss authorities," the statement added.

Commenting on the news, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: "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," Infantino added.

A chain of corruption scandals rocked FIFA less than two years ago. Everything flared up with an unprecedented scandal on the morning of May 27, 2015, one day before the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich, where seven of the organization’s high-ranking officials were arrested in Switzerland on bribery, money laundering and corruption charges.

The US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York opened a criminal investigation into the awarding of media, marketing and sponsorship rights for football tournaments in the United States and Latin America.

The Swiss Office of the Attorney General opened criminal cases against top FIFA officials in regard to the selection of the FIFA World Cup hosting countries.

Ex-FIFA President Sepp Blatter, 79 years old at that time, was re-elected to his fifth consecutive four-year presidential term on May 29, 2015, when his only rival Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan backed out after the first round of vote.

However, addressing a news conference in Zurich on June 2 later that year, Blatter said he decided to lay down his mandate at FIFA extraordinary elective Congress.

In early October 2015, Blatter and then-president of UEFA Michel Platini were both suspended for the period of 90 days from their posts as part of the investigation into corruption allegations against them.

Among a number of corruption allegations, Blatter was suspected of a disloyal payment of 2 million Swiss francs to UEFA President Platini in February 2011.

The adjudicatory chamber of the independent FIFA Ethics Committee held hearings into corruption charges on December 17 and 18, 2016 in regard to Blatter and Platini respectively, and on December 21, 2016 they were both suspended for the period of eight years from all football-related activities.

The Ethics Committee also subjected both of the football executives to financial fines, obliging Blatter to pay 50,000 Swiss francs (over $50,300) and Platini - 80,000 Swiss francs (over $80,500).

In early March 2016, FIFA Appeal Committee ruled to roll back the suspension sentences for Platini and Blatter from eight to six years.

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