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UK banks launch FIFA probe

Aditi Khanna PTI |

Britain-headquartered banks have started internal reviews into whether they were used for corrupt payments by FIFA officials, the BBC reported today.

Barclays and Standard Chartered, as well as HSBC, were referred to in the FBI indictment of seven FIFA officials.

Barclays and HSBC have declined to comment while Standard Chartered said it was looking into those payments.

A Standard Chartered spokesman said "We are aware that two payments cleared by Standard Chartered are mentioned in the indictment. We are looking into those payments and will not be commenting further at this time".

However, there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by the banks.

Any internal reviews are not believed to include requests from the Serious Fraud Office, which is also looking at the worldwide allegations.

The three banks are among more than a dozen named in a 164-page indictment by US authorities.

The news comes as Britain’s Opposition Labour leadership challenger Andy Burnham has called for England to boycott the 2018 Russia World Cup in protest.

Speaking to BBC, he said "I’ve long had my doubts about Russia holding the next World Cup. Now with all of this, I believe there is a pretty overwhelming case for England taking a stand and saying we should not participate in the next World Cup given the current appalling state of FIFA".

FA chairman Greg Dyke has said that Britain would not be able to take a stand against FIFA without wider support.

"Putting pressure on Sepp Blatter is pretty impossible.

But putting pressure on other footballing nations and putting pressure on sponsors is a good idea, I think," he said.

The proposal of a FIFA World Cup boycott was first threatened by UEFA head Michel Platini, who will meet European footballing nations next week to decide how they take a stand against Blatter.

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale told the ‘Sunday Times‘ that England and UEFA were right to consider turning their backs on the tournament, adding "no options should be ruled out".