FIFA urged to postpone election
Under-pressure FIFA president Sepp Blatter will not be at London's Wembley Stadium for the UEFA Champions League final, Sky News reported Saturday, citing a spokesman for world soccer's governing body.
His absence was confirmed amid calls for the organization's presidential election, scheduled midweek, to be postponed with both candidates being investigated over allegations of corruption.
Many of FIFA's leaders will be at Wembley later Saturday for the showdown between Manchester United and Barcelona. But they were set to assemble against a backdrop of derision after Blatter was called to appear Sunday before the ethics committee of his own organization, three days before the presidential vote.
Proceedings were opened against the 75-year-old Friday relating to charges that cash was paid in exchange for votes in the election. Blatter's opponent in Wednesday's election, Mohamed Bin Hammam of Qatar, was also being investigated.
Bin Hammam described himself Friday as the victim of a "tawdry conspiracy" and said payments to members of the Caribbean Football Union in Port of Spain this month were for delegates' travel and accommodation and to cover administrative costs.
His statement read, "It is difficult to understand how the case could even have been brought before the committee."
Michel Platini, the president of the European governing body UEFA, called Friday for bans for FIFA members found guilty of corruption.
Platini is tipped to take over one day in the top job at FIFA and when asked if he would stand for the job this time round should the elections collapse, replied, "Never say never."
The calls to halt the presidential election were led by Britain and endorsed by Prime Minister David Cameron.
"It's impossible to have a sensible election when both of the candidates have been accused of corruption," the UK government's sports minister Hugh Roberton said. "The sensible thing would be to suspend the election until these allegations have been properly investigated."
But Russia, winner of the 2018 World Cup bid, was adamant that it would not join the international calls for FIFA reform.
Vladimir Putin, the Prime Minister, said Friday, "To accuse Blatter of corruption, that is utter rubbish! Blatter has certainly done a lot for developing global football, that is an evident fact."