Angry Blatter points finger at US attorney general Lynch and FBI
FIFA president Sepp Blatter today criticised US attorney general Loretta Lynch and an American federal investigation into football corruption which could yet lead directly to his door.
In a defiant interview with his local Swiss broadcaster, Blatter said "there is something that smells" about the timing of dawn raids to arrest football officials in Zurich two days before his re-election on Friday.
Two FIFA vice presidents and a recently-elected FIFA executive committee member were among seven men detained and accused of racketeering, money laundering and fraud in connection with bribes worth £98 million ($150 million) for tournament television rights.
Lynch said Wednesday that indicted FIFA and marketing officials had "corrupted the business of worldwide soccer to serve their interests and to enrich themselves".
"I was shocked by what she said," Blatter told French-language broadcaster RTS. "As a president I would never make a statement about another organisation without knowing."
Blatter then suggested the US Department of Justice went too far in its actions which brought a torrent of condemnation down on FIFA, which he has led for 17 years.
"Listen, with all respect to the judicial system of the US, with a new minister of justice," Blatter said, "the Americans, if they have a financial crime that regards American citizens then they must arrest these people there and not in Zurich when we have a congress."
Blatter spoke hours after FIFA member federations ignored the global protests to elect him to a fifth four-year term at the age of 79, voting 133-73 in favour of the Swiss against challenger prince Ali bin al-Hussein.
He even suggested a political motive for the American investigation.
"The United States, it is the main sponsors of the Hashemite kingdom," Blatter said, referring to the Jordanian prince’s home country.
Emboldened by his election win, Blatter explained his earlier comments on Friday that FIFA’s legal problems stemmed from choosing Russia and Qatar five years ago as the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts.
"The Americans were the candidates for the World Cup of 2022 and they lost," he said. "The English were the candidates for 2018 and they lost, so it was really with the English media and the American movement that came down."
Lynch has said the American federal case is just at the beginning, with 14 men indicted and four more making guilty pleas, including American former longtime FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer.
The seven detained in Zurich are fighting extradition to the US and face 20 years in prison.