ZURICH: FIFA president Sepp Blatter expressed shock on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) at the tactics used by the US anti-corruption investigators but insisted he was not a target.
The 79-year-old Swiss official, on the offensive after being re-elected to a new term, also slammed what he called a “hate” campaign by European football leaders
Blatter said he suspected the arrest of seven FIFA officials in Zurich on Wednesday under a US anti-corruption warrant was an attempt to “interfere with the congress” that returned him to power.
“There are signs which cannot be mistaken: the Americans were candidates for the 2022 World Cup and they lost,” he told Swiss television channel RTS.
“I am not certain, but it doesn’t smell good.”
He described the US as the “number one sponsor” of Jordan, home country of his challenger for the FIFA presidency, Prince Ali bin al Hussein.
The Jordanian prince, who had the backing of European football body UEFA, withdrew from Friday’s race after the first round of voting.
The seven arrested officials were all detained for corruption cases in North and South America and Blatter said they could have been arrested on their home territory or at a FIFA executive committee six weeks ago.
He also condemned comments about FIFA made by senior members of the US judiciary, including Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who lamented the “rampant, systemic and deep-rooted” corruption in football. Another official spoke of a “World Cup of fraud”.
“Of course I am shocked,” Blatter responded. “I would never as FIFA president make comments about another organization without being certain of what has happened.”