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Rediff.com  » Sports » Nearly $1 mln in FIFA funds missing in Guatemala?

Nearly $1 mln in FIFA funds missing in Guatemala?

January 30, 2016 13:47 IST

The FIFA logo is seen outside the FIFA headquarters in Zurich

IMAGE: The FIFA logo is seen outside the FIFA headquarters in Zurich. Photograph: Ruben Sprich/Reuters

Nearly $1 million in funds from soccer's global governing body FIFA may have gone missing from Guatemala's soccer federation last year, according to sources and an internal audit seen by Reuters.

Dozens of soccer officials worldwide have been charged by US authorities probing corruption in FIFA, in an investigation that has sent shockwaves across the sport.

In 2015, the Guatemalan soccer federation (Fedefut) received 8.24 million quetzals ($1.1 mln) in nine deposits from FIFA from February to October, according to a document signed by the federation's accountant and seen by Reuters.

The Fedefut budget presented early last year totaled about $1.5 million but only included about $250,000 in FIFA funding while the remaining funds from the nine deposits were not included, according to sources knowledgeable about the internal audit.

The internal audit was conducted by a FIFA committee put in charge of running the Guatemalan soccer federation following the arrest on corruption charges last month of top local officials, and earlier on Friday the committee filed a complaint over the missing funds with the attorney general's office of the Central American country.

The federation's year-end spending report excluded the additional deposits.

The membership of Fedefut's general assembly was also not informed of the nine deposits.

"That information was hidden," said one of the sources, adding that the results of an investigation into the missing funds will be provided to a visiting FIFA official next week.

In one document, Fedefut's top budget official Oswaldo Rolando confirmed that the federation's financial division was informed of the extra deposits.

"I don't know why they weren't made available to the general assembly," Rolando said in the documents.

Ciro Muralles, the former head of the financial division, said in a brief phone interview that he would not comment on the missing funds until he reviews the documents.

A spokesperson for the FIFA committee running Guatemala's soccer federation confirmed that the complaint seeks an investigation into "the crimes that might have occurred."

Earlier this month, Guatemalan police arrested fugitive former Fedefut president Brayan Jimenez in connection with the corruption probe.

Jimenez has been accused of taking bribes along with Hector Trujillo, former secretary general of the Guatemalan soccer federation, who was arrested last month in the United States.

Both have denied the charges.

Meanwhile, FIFA presidential candidate Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa warned that world football's besieged ruling body could be bankrupt in two years under proposals put forward by his election rivals.

According to AFP, with FIFA having already reported a $100 million loss (92.2 million euros), Sheikh Salman is adamant that the Swiss coffers could be empty by 2018 if any one of his rivals makes good on their spending plans if elected to succeed Sepp Blatter on February 26.

"FIFA's financial status has very substantially declined over the last year alone: we are faced with a deficit of presently unknown proportions if we don't turn this ship around," he told insideworldfootball.com.

"These are the figures that FIFA published in their last annual report: Income and expenses for the 2011-2014 period generated a result of $338 million (311.9 million euros). Had we already adopted the proposed extreme new expenditure (a campaign promise by some), we would be in substantial negative territory already today -- if we include the $100m loss FIFA generated last year alone," said the member of the Bahrain royal family.

"This is the dire reality: by 2018, FIFA will have zero reserves left if today's status quo remains unchanged, and if there continues to be a substantial lack of income from TV and marketing rights sales."

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