Zurich. Sepp Blatter has said that the events in the run-up to his re-election as FIFA president “do not smell right” and he was the victim of “hate” on the part of European soccer’s governing body UEFA.
Blatter implied that it was not just a coincidence that Swiss police arrested seven leading soccer officials, including FIFA vice-president Jeffrey Webb, two days before the FIFA Congress and presidential election.
The seven have been detained pending an extradition request from the United States where they are wanted on corruption charges.
The arrests were connected to a bribery scandal being investigated by US, Swiss and other law enforcement agencies that has plunged FIFA into the worst crisis in its 111-year history.
“No one is going to take it off me that it was a simple coincidence [that] this American attack [happened] two days before the elections of FIFA,” Blatter told the RTS Swiss television channel in an interview. “And afterwards the reaction of UEFA and [UEFA president Michel] Platini. No one is going to take this out of me … I am not certain, but it’s not good.”
“Why didn’t they [the police] do this in March when we had the same meeting. At that time, we had less journalists.”
Platini called on Blatter to step down as UEFA president on Thursday and UEFA’s member associations said they would vote for his opponent Prince Ali bin Al Hussein.
“The Americans, if they have a financial crime that regards American citizens, must arrest these people there and not in Zurich in the moment we have a congress.”
Russia was awarded the right to host the 2018 World Cup and Qatar the 2022 tournament in a controversial vote in December 2010.
“It is a hate not only by one person of UEFA but by the organisation of UEFA that has not understood that I have been president since 1998,” Blatter said. “I forgive everyone but I don’t forget.”
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