Suspected illegal activity took place around the award of the next two World Cups to Russia and Qatar, FIFA revealed yesterday.
The embattled organisation also confirmed it had submitted a criminal complaint with the Swiss attorney general.
In the latest explosive twist to its inquiry into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, the world governing body announced it had unearthed evidence that unlawful "international transfers of assets took place" in the build-up to the 2010 vote.
But FIFA's head judge, Hans-Joachim Eckert, warned the revelation did not affect his ruling last week that cleared Russia and Qatar to stage those World Cups. Separately, Sepp Blatter finally broke his silence on the civil war that has engulfed FIFA in the days since the initial findings of its own inquiry were made public, insisting the full report of its chief investigator and his deputy would never see the light of day.
That was amid mounting pressure for the release of the complete text of Michael J Garcia and Cornel Borbély's 430-page submission to Eckert, who published only a 42-page summary branded a "whitewash" by critics. Swiss prosecutors will get their hands on the full report and, unlike Garcia and Borbély, they have the power to seize records and subpoena witnesses - although they may need the co-operation of foreign law enforcement to apprehend those suspected of wrongdoing.
Neither FIFA not Eckert disclosed the identities of the alleged perpetrators but the German's summary last week named disgraced former FIFA executive committee members Mohamed bin Hammam, from Qatar, and Jack Warner, from Trinidad, as having breached bidding rules. England were accused of the same during their doomed attempt to land the 2018 World Cup but there was no suggestion yesterday its officials had been reported to the Swiss prosecutors.
Eckert said in a statement: "During my analysis of the report from the chairman and deputy chairman of the investigatory chamber of the FIFA ethics committee, I came across indications that pointed to suspected unlawful activity in connection with Switzerland.
"In the circumstances, I saw it as my duty to bring this to the FIFA president's attention and to recommend to him that the Swiss criminal prosecution authorities be informed.
"Not once did my statement involve a so-called 'whitewashing' of the award process with regard to the various allegations and assumptions made, contrary to what has been claimed in some quarters. My statement was based on the Garcia report - I can only work with the material contained in it and, in my view, there was insufficient clear evidence of illegal or irregular conduct that would call into question the integrity of the award process." (© Daily Telegraph, London)