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Garcia quizzes Blatter, FIFA board on World Cup

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 20, 2014 at 11:44 am •  Published: March 20, 2014
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GENEVA (AP) — Sepp Blatter and other FIFA officials involved in choosing Russia and Qatar as future World Cup hosts are being interviewed this week by ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia.

Garcia "is currently in Zurich and is also interviewing some of the FIFA executive members as part of his ongoing work," FIFA said in a statement Thursday.

Blatter and 12 colleagues, including UEFA president Michel Platini and Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko, remain on FIFA's board from the December 2010 vote that handed the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar.

The bidding process was tarnished even before the vote by widespread allegations of rule-breaking by bidders and favor-seeking by the FIFA ruling committee. Two voters were suspended by FIFA following a cash-for-votes sting by British newspaper The Sunday Times.

Among nine voters who have since left FIFA, Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar was banned for life by the governing body in 2012 for financial wrongdoing when leading the Asian Football Confederation.

Garcia's investigating team is focusing on FIFA board members after seeking interviews since last October with officials from the nine World Cup bid committees.

His work resumed this week as further suspicion was cast on bin Hammam's role in the Qatari victory.

The Daily Telegraph in London reported it had evidence of a $2 million money trail from a construction company in Doha controlled by bin Hammam to disgraced former FIFA vice president Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago. One note was dated Dec. 15, 2010.

The newspaper reported that the FBI is investigating links between Warner and bin Hammam, who were FIFA board colleagues for 15 years.

The Qatari World Cup organizing committee has denied persistent allegations of wrongdoing connected to its bid, and distanced itself from bin Hammam, describing him as a "private individual."

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