FIFA crisis deepens amid corruption arrests, fight over elections goes on

Fifa has been drawn into a deep crisis by the arrest of senior officials in raids in Zurich on Wednesday followed by a long-running FBI investigation, while Swiss authorities simultaneously launched an inquiry into bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

FIFA crisis deepens amid corruption arrests, fight over elections goes on

New Delhi: Fifa has been drawn into a deep crisis by the arrest of senior officials in raids in Zurich on Wednesday followed by a long-running FBI investigation, while Swiss authorities simultaneously launched an inquiry into bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

With the FIFA presidential elections to be held on Friday, several factions are fighting over whether they should be postponed or continued as planned.

UEFA, the European governing body, which has been backing Sepp Blatter’s rival for the Fifa presidency, Prince Ali Bin al-Hussain of Jordan, called for Friday’s presidential election to be postponed and said it might also boycott Fifa’s Congress. Until Wednesday’s events, Sepp Blatter was the frontrunner for a fifth term in the post.

"UEFA believes that the FIFA Congress should be postponed and that the election for the president should take place within six months," said UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino, speaking after UEFA`s Executive Committee had held an extaordinary meeting in Warsaw ahead of the Europa League final.

The Asian Football Confederation, a key ally of FIFA president Sepp Blatter with its own recent history of corruption allegations, insisted Thursday that the FIFA congress and presidential election should go ahead as planned.

Despite the arrest of seven senior FIFA officials on corruption charges, the powerful AFC -- whose disgraced former president Mohamed bin Hammam was in 2012 banned from football for life in the wake of a "cash for votes" scandal -- reiterated its support for Blatter in Friday`s FIFA presidential election in a statement posted on its website.

AFC members hold 47 of the 209 votes in the FIFA election, third only behind Africa`s CAF (56 votes) and Europe`s UEFA (54).

Meanwhile, Brazil`s Football Confederation (CBF) and the country`s president said Wednesday they backed a corruption probe into FIFA, as one of seven people detained, Jose Maria Marin, was sidelined as CBF number two.

The chairman of England`s Football Association called on FIFA President Sepp Blatter to leave the position on Thursday after a major corruption scandal engulfed the sport.

"Sepp Blatter has to go as FIFA president," Greg Dyke, chairman of the FA, football`s governing body in England, told the Press Association.

A dramatic day unfolded for the world governing body with 12 plainclothes policemen raiding the five-star Bauer au Lac hotel in Zurich and concluded with a press conference in Brooklyn at which the director of the FBI and the US attorney general accused senior Fifa executives of presiding over a “World Cup of fraud” and bribery claims.

Also former FIFA vice president Jack Warner was arrested in Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday, hours after US prosecutors claimed he accepted bribes during host selections for the 1998 and 2010 World Cups in France and South Africa.

US court papers alleged Wednesday that soccer executives were handed $40,000 cash bribes stuffed into envelopes at an upmarket Caribbean hotel ahead of the 2011 FIFA presidential election.

The payments were allegedly arranged by a high-ranking official at FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) who was a candidate in the election but who was not named in the US indictment.

(With Agency inputs)

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