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Wednesday, 8 May, 2002, 13:55 GMT 14:55 UK
Fifa sues Blatter
Blatter is accused of misappropriating Fifa funds
The criminal investigation will begin within 48 hours
Senior officials from football's world governing body, Fifa, have begun legal proceedings against their president Sepp Blatter.

The criminal investigation, which will start during the next 48 hours, follows allegations of financial mismanagement.

Blatter has always rejected the claims.

Fifa's senior European boss, Lennart Johansson, said: "We have no choice but to go to the Swiss legal authorities.

"Under Swiss law you are obliged to go to court if you are aware of a criminal act."

The Uefa president added: "If you withold that information you can be charged yourself.

"Following the report of Michel Zen-Ruffinen (Fifa general-secretary) to the executive committee on Friday we are now obliged to act."

Earlier, 11 of the organisation's 24 executive committee members supported plans to file for a criminal investigation.

Fifa vice-president Chung Mong-joon said he was adamant Blatter had a case to answer.

"Mr Blatter must face a thorough investigation over the abuse of his authority and misuse of Fifa funds," he said.

I understand a lawyer has been hired and that legal action has started
Fifa vice-president Chung Mong-joon
Chung, a vocal critic of Blatter, said he joined a move by six of the eight European members of the executive committee to ask Swiss prosecutors to investigate Blatter.

The move was also signed by four African members of the executive committee.

"I understand a lawyer has been hired and that legal action has started," he said.

Chung was the only Asian executive member to join the legal action against the Fifa chief.

A 21-page document submitted to the executive committee on Friday and leaked over the weekend suggested the organisation's financial situation was much more insecure than generally believed.

In the document, Fifa general secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen alleged Blatter had showered millions of dollars worth of financial favours on Concacaf (North and Central American and Caribbean confederation) and its president, Jack Warner.

Blatter claims that allegations of financial mismanagement are aimed at ruining his campaign for re-election to the Fifa presidency.

He will face African soccer chief Issa Hayatou in an election on 29 May in Seoul, South Korea, just two days before the World Cup kicks off in the city.

BBC Sport's Harry Peart
"The implications of this bitter dispute are being felt around the world"
See also:

03 May 02 |  Other News
Blatter vows to fight back
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