A criminal case against FIFA President Gianni Infantino was opened on Thursday by a Swiss special prosecutor who plunged the football body into a new scandal.
FIFA said so and Infantino will work with the Swiss authorities.
Special Prosecutor Stefan Keller concluded that there was enough evidence to go to court after investigating the circumstances of a meeting Infantino had with Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber.
Lauber offered to resign last week.
According to the French-language version of a statement by the Swiss authority that oversees the prosecutor's office, Keller has "uncovered elements that constitute reprehensible behavior".
Keller opened criminal proceedings against Infantino and the Valais public prosecutor Rinaldo Arnold and, according to the authority, has applied for permission to also initiate legal proceedings against Lauber.
Keller, a legal expert who was appointed special prosecutor on June 29, noted that possible violations of abuse of public office, breach of official secrecy, "support for criminals" and "incitement to these acts", the supervisory authority for the office of The attorney general said in his statement that adding other crimes and procedures could also be considered.
According to the Swiss Criminal Code, convictions for abuse of public office can result in up to five years in prison or other prison terms, while official secrecy violations and support for criminals can each result in up to three years. Any fee can also result in financial penalties.
In such cases, suspects benefit from a presumption of innocence in Switzerland until the court proceedings are completed.
FIFA said it "recognized" the prosecutor's decision and that, like we have always done, she and Infantino will "cooperate fully in this investigation." Earlier problems of the football association before taking office were highlighted and meetings with prosecutors were declared necessary.
"As FIFA President, it has been my goal from day one to help the authorities investigate past misconduct at FIFA," said Infantino. "FIFA officials have met with prosecutors in other countries around the world for precisely these purposes."
FIFA revived Infantino's statement on June 25, saying: "A meeting with the Attorney General of Switzerland is absolutely legitimate and absolutely legal. It is not a violation of anything. On the contrary, it is also a trustee of the FIFA Presidents. "
Lauber offered on Friday, just a few minutes before a federal court confirmed the allegations, that he had lied about meeting with Infantino during an extensive investigation into football corruption. It was in response to Lauber's appeal to be disciplined in March for misconduct.
The internal disciplinary proceedings against Lauber focused on a meeting with Infantino in June 2017 in a hotel in Bern, at which the prosecutor made no notes. Both later said they could not remember their discussion at their third meeting in 15 months.
"Due to general life experience, such a case of collective amnesia is a deviation," said the decision of the federal court last week.
Infantino became President of FIFA after the investigations that broke out around the governing body in 2015. FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who had previously announced that he would resign after the arrest of dozens of football officials, was excluded from football.
Michel Platini, the favorite to succeed Blatter and later UEFA president, was also suspended.
In the void, Infantino, who led the UEFA administration as general secretary, saw a path to leading FIFA. The Swiss-Italian was elected in 2016 and beat the President of the Asian Football Confederation, Sheikh Salman.
The Bahraini is FIFA's senior vice president and will temporarily replace Infantino if he is suspended for criminal proceedings.
Rob Harris, AP Global Soccer Writer in Manchester, England, contributed to this report.
More AP football: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports