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Saturday, December 17, 2011

FBI's investigation into alleged Fifa corruption heads for the Caribbean

It is understood that investigators are pursuing lines of inquiry on several fronts after interviewing Chuck Blazer, the American Fifa executive committee member at the heart of the investigation.

Blazer is being investigated following allegations that he failed to declare payments linked to Concacaf television deals to the US tax authorities.

Sources have confirmed to Telegraph Sport that the American has been questioned by FBI officials.

The bureau is thought to be working through information provided by Blazer As well as examining a raft of allegations made following the flawed Fifa elections for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts a year ago, and the presidential election this summer.

The investigation is being handled by financial specialists based in New York, who have powers to access bank accounts and track financial transactions.

Blazer did not respond to an invitation to comment, but has said previously of the allegations: “All of my transactions have been legally and properly done, in compliance with the various laws of the applicable jurisdictions based on the nature of the transaction."

The allegations against Blazer were levelled after he turned whistleblower to expose alleged bribery in the Fifa presidential election by Mohammad Bin Hammam, and Caribbean football chief Jack Warner. Some 16 Caribbean football officials have been banned by Fifa for their involvement in the bribery scandal.

Taylor's talk not cheap

Further light has been shed on the negotiations concerning Gordon Taylor and News International after the Professional Footballers Association chief executive discovered his phone had been hacked.

Taylor received £850,000 compensation from NI but correspondence between NI’s lawyers and senior management reveal he rejected an earlier offer of £350,000, and asked for £1million plus £200,000 costs.

In one letter, NI’s lawyers said that Taylor’s lawyer, Mark Lewis, had told them he wanted to be “vindicated or made rich”.

The terms of his agreement with NI prevent him from commenting.

Lyon win raised eyebrows

There was surprise in betting and other circles last week at the speed with which Michel Platini dismissed suggestions that Lyon’s 7-1 victory over Dinamo Zagreb in the final Champions League group game should be scrutinised.

Lyon’s victory in Zagreb, combined with Ajax’s 3-0 defeat to Real Madrid meant the French side qualified from Group D at the expense of Ajax, prompting calls for an investigation from the Dutch side and a French betting operator.

While betting monitors including Sports Radar, which provides information to Uefa, concluded that there were no suspicious betting patterns around the game, experienced observers believe the attitude of some of the Zagreb players left much to be desired.

The in-play market for the game shows that punters, including a number of highly experienced professionals, abandoned the game when Lyon went 3-1 up possibly because of a lack of confidence in their commitment.

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