FIFA’s newly re-elected chief, Sepp Blatter, has wasted no time in pointing the finger at the United States and Europe over the corruption allegations that overshadowed the soccer body’s annual congress and threatened to derail his presidential bid.
In an interview Friday with Swiss channel RTS, Blatter said the arrests of seven FIFA officials in Zurich, Switzerland, on U.S. warrants only two days before the election, followed by calls for his own resignation by the head of UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, “are not a coincidence.”
The arrests at a hotel Wednesday were followed by the indictment by U.S. prosecutors of nine FIFA officials as well as five sports media and marketing executives over alleged kickbacks of more than $150 million. They rocked the delegates gathered for FIFA’s 65th World Congress in Zurich.
“I am not certain, but it doesn’t smell good,” he said.
“There are unmistakeable signs: The Americans were candidates for the 2022 World Cup, and they lost. The English were candidates for the 2018 World Cup. They lost,” the 79-year-old soccer kingpin told RTS.
“If the Americans want to get involved in money or common law offenses relating to North and South American citizens, they should arrest them there, but not in Zurich when there is a congress.”
He also highlighted the alliances of the United States. “Let us not forget that they are the number one sponsor of the Hashemite Kingdom (of Jordan), therefore of my adversary (Prince Ali).”