FIFA Caribbean media rights deal to be probed by Swiss prosecutors


Swiss prosecutors will investigate a FIFA contract for media rights to the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, reports the BBC.

The probe follows a news report that Fifa sold the rights for rates below market value to a Caribbean football organisation. Fifa said the agreement with the Caribbean group promised Fifa much more than the up-front fee. US and Swiss officials also reported on a wider Fifa inquiry.

Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber told a press conference that prosecutors would look at the rights contract “to see if it is really valuable [to the investigation] or not”. He added that the probe as a whole was nowhere near the half-time whistle.

[. . . ] The latest Swiss probe involves a 2005 contract to televise the 2010 and 2014 World Cups in parts of the Caribbean. Swiss broadcaster SRF reported on Friday that Fifa signed over the media rights to the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) for $600,000. It said that Jack Warner, head of the CFU at the time, then transferred the rights to his own company and resold them in a deal worth between $15m (£10m) and $20m.

SRF posted excerpts of the contract on its website that appeared to show that former Fifa boss Sepp Blatter and Mr Warner signed it themselves. Fifa said in a statement that the CFU had promised it more than the upfront fee, and that Fifa was to receive half of any profits related to subcontracting the rights. The organisation also said it terminated the contract in 2011 after the CFU failed to meet its financial obligations or follow subcontracting requirements.

Mr Lauber said his office had received an explanation from Fifa, which would be considered.

Mr Warner, who left organised football in 2011, has said in the past that he had evidence he was granted World Cup television rights in his region a number of times, including for the 2010 and 2014 events, in return for securing votes for Blatter’s campaigns for Fifa president. He said the money made from media rights was used “to develop Caribbean football.” Fifa has dismissed Mr Warner’s claims as false and said that television rights had nothing do with Mr Blatter’s election campaigns. [. . .]

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