Blatter seeks re-election amidst FIFA graft scandal
The US Justice Department has charged 14 individuals -- including two current FIFA vice presidents and seven other world football officials -- with offences including racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies. It also said in a release that the 47-count indictment, unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, is “not the final chapter” in the wide-ranging and ongoing investigation.
The announcement by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, accompanied at a press conference in New York by FBI director James Comey, came on the same day that Swiss authorities arrested seven of the 14 defendants charged in the indictment. In addition to the US-led criminal investigation, Swiss officials are looking into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.
“They used their positions of trust within their respective organizations to solicit bribes from sports marketers in exchange for the commercial rights to their soccer tournaments,” Lynch said.
Despite the insistence of reporters, however, she refused to discuss possible measures against FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who was not among those indicted and is expected to win re-election for a fifth term on Friday.
Amidst all this, Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), that has 54 FIFA members had on Wednesday called for the postponement of the presidential elections but FIFA stood firm and even asserted that the two World Cups will go as planned.
FIFA’s Independent Ethics Committee has also banned 11 officials named by investigators from football activities. “Such misconduct has no place in football and we will ensure that those who engage in it are put out of the game,” Blatter said. However, ahead of the elections, UEFA president Michael Platini on Thursday asked Blatter to step down and also urged his organisation’s 54 members to cast their votes against the incumbent FIFA supremo because of the issue.
“I have had enough. Enough is enough. Too much is too much. On <g data-gr-id="34">Thursday</g> we had a meeting of the 54 members. Tomorrow (Friday), when it comes to the election of the presidency, a very big majority of European national associations will vote Prince Ali,” he said.
“People don’t want anymore and I don’t want him anymore either. I have always said they want FIFA to be strong and FIFA is no longer strong. I am still trying to convince some (European football associations) who are not totally convinced,” he concluded.