Blatter chairs Fifa crisis meeting

Published: Thursday 28th May 2015 by Tom Drinkall

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Fifa president Sepp Blatter has chaired an emergency meeting with continental football bodies while staying out of public view himself.

Mr Blatter called together leaders of Fifa’s six regions as world football is rocked by an American federal racketeering case.

Fifa spokeswoman Delia Fischer said in a statement: “There was a meeting today with the president with the representatives from the confederations to discuss the current situation.”

Mr Blatter is resisting calls from European football body Uefa to postpone tomorrow’s Fifa presidential election by six months.

Uefa has called the dual American and Swiss federal probes a “disaster for Fifa”, and is supporting Mr Blatter’s election opponent, Fifa vice president Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan.

Mr Blatter has continued to avoid appearing in public since Swiss federal agencies raided Fifa headquarters and a luxury Zurich hotel early yesterday.

He missed giving a scheduled speech to open a session of Fifa’s medical conference in a Zurich hotel – his third skipped public appearance within 24 hours.

Fifa chief medical officer Jiri Dvorak told delegates that Mr Blatter has to “manage the situation”.

Two Fifa vice presidents were among seven men arrested at the request of the US Department of Justice. In a separate investigation, Swiss federal agencies seized evidence at Fifa headquarters for a probe of the 2018-2022 World Cup bidding contests.

Mr Blatter skipped two meetings of continental football organisations from Africa and South America yesterday.

He typically would attend those ahead of tomorrow’s annual congress of Fifa’s 209 member federations.

Late yesterday, Fifa issued a statement on behalf of Mr Blatter where the president insisted he was determined to root out misconduct.

The Fifa president would also usually follow protocol and attend yesterday’s Uefa meeting. He is scheduled to appear later in the day.

Mr Blatter is also expected to address member federations – the Fifa election voters – at the opening ceremony of the congress at 5pm local time.

UK Culture, Media and Sport Secretary John Whittingdale said Mr Blatter must resign over the corruption allegations, saying that “change in the leadership of Fifa is very badly needed”.

Mr Whittingdale said major sponsors should follow Visa and review their links with Fifa in the wake of corruption charges against senior Fifa officials.

“This is merely the latest sorry episode which suggests that Fifa is a deeply flawed and corrupt organisation,” Mr Whittingdale told the House of Commons.

He added he was sure British fraud authorities would investigate whether any of the corruption took place on UK soil.

European football nations say they will not boycott the congress. F ootball Association of Ireland chief executive John Delaney says Uefa backed down from its threatened boycott, hours before the start of the congress.

Published: Thursday 28th May 2015 by Tom Drinkall

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