One day after a string of bribery arrests and indictments was revealed to center on FIFA, the soccer organization’s president, Sepp Blatter, says he will not resign. Accusations of rampant corruption at FIFA came just days before Blatter stands for reelection in Switzerland Friday.
The dozens of criminal charges have stoked long-simmering suspicions about corruption in soccer’s governing body. In response, Europe’s umbrella organization, UEFA, has called for postponing Friday’s vote – and today, its leader announced that many of its member associations will support Jordan’s PrinceAli Bin Al Hussein, the lone challenger to Blatter.
“Enough is enough,” UEFA President Michel Platini said. He added, “I am disgusted.”
Describing a talk he had with Blatter, Platini said, “He already lost. FIFA already lost.”
In a news conference held Thursday, Platini described how Blatter was “affected” by their talk, in which Platini says he spoke to the embattled FIFA leader as an old friend.
It’s a startling turnabout for both Blatter and FIFA, which earlier this year announced that in the years from 2011 to 2014, it brought in revenue of $5.7 billion against expenses of $5.38 billion.
As of Thursday, Blatter “says he has no intention of resigning,” the BBC reports.
On Wednesday, U.S. and Swiss authorities announced arrests, indictments and investigations into bribery and kickbacks, with the U.S. inquiry naming nine senior FIFA officials and several sports marketing executives. The Swiss investigation includes the process of choosing host cities for two upcoming World Cup tournaments, in Russia and Qatar.
The arrests took place at a Lake Zurich hotel where FIFA members had gathered ahead of the organization’s elections. Later, the U.S. released a lengthy indictment that detailed money changing hands over marketing and media rights to prestigious tournaments run by FIFA.
The criminal charges against senior FIFA leaders in the U.S. and South America have had wide effects, prompting federal police in Brazil to raid a sports marketing firm in Rio de Janeiro.
From Rio, NPR’s Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports:
“It’s called Klefer Sports Marketing and it’s owned by the former head of renowned Brazilian soccer club Flamengo. The company negotiates TV rights for sporting events and had a close relationship with Traffic, the Brazilian firm implicated in bribery scheme.
“Separately, the former footballer and current senator known simply here as Romario has asked the Senate to open an investigation into the Brazilian football confederation. The former president and current vice president of the Brazilian confederation, Jose Maria Marin, is under indictment by US. .authorities for his involvement in the alleged massive kickback scheme.”