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Sepp Blatter acquitted of financial mismanagement

Zurich: Fifa president Sepp Blatter has been cleared of accusations of financial mismanagement after a decision by the prosecutor’s office for the canton of Zurich, the office said in a statement on Wednesday.

The public prosecutor confirmed the decision to close an investigation into Blatter that was initially opened after a complaint by 11 members of the Fifa executive committee on May 13.

“The complainants...had accused Joseph Blatter of actions which they themselves had collectively approved,” said a statement from the prosecutor’s office.

“In this regard, the complaint was not only reprehensible, which is self-evident under the given circumstances, but also bordering on false accusation.”

Blatter, who survived a campaign against him and was voted in for another four-year term as Fifa president this year, was relieved to see his name finally cleared.

He said in a Fifa statement: “The fact that this investigation has been closed justifies the trust placed in my person at the Fifa Congress in Seoul on May 30, 2002. “I hope, for the good of the game and all those who love and serve it, that we will never again see such a campaign, which was unjust and based purely upon slander and groundless complaints.”

The complaint arose out of a report on Blatter filed by Fifa general secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen. He was replaced in July after Blatter was re-elected with a comfortable majority in Seoul on the eve of the World Cup finals.

Blatter added: “The whole matter has been a dirty game that has caused unnecessary and untold damage to the image of football, the game’s world governing body and not least that of its president.

Kaiserslautern crisis

Four-times German champions Kaiserslautern are threatened with financial collapse because they are likely to have to pay back millions of euros worth of tax.

The club declined to comment on a report in Wednesday's Bild daily saying they would have to pay an estimated 20 million euros ($19.98 million) in back taxes, meaning they would probably go bust.

But Kaiserslautern said in a statement that the first findings of a probe into alleged financial irregularities by the club's former management over the past five years had been forwarded to the tax authorities.

The club said last week when it announced having launched the inquiry that additional tax claims could not be excluded but did not give any figures.

(Reuters)

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