Blatter Criticizes U.S. Over Timing of Soccer Corruption Case Arrests

Newly re-elected FIFA chief says 'there is something that smells' about timing of the dawn raids to arrest soccer officials in Zurich two days before the vote.

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FIFA President Sepp Blatter attends a news conference after a meeting of the FIFA executive committee in Zurich, March 20, 2015.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter attends a news conference after a meeting of the FIFA executive committee in Zurich, March 20, 2015. Credit: Reuters

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has criticized U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and an American federal investigation into soccer corruption.

Blatter tells Swiss broadcaster RTS "there is something that smells" about the timing of dawn raids to arrest soccer officials in Zurich two days before his re-election Friday.

The defiant FIFA chief says Lynch's comments on the bribery and racketeering case "shocked" him.

Lynch said Wednesday that indicted FIFA and marketing officials had "corrupted the business of worldwide soccer to serve their interests and to enrich themselves."

Blatter says "as a president I would never make a statement about another organization without knowing."

Blatter suggests "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."

Seven of the most powerful figures in global soccer were arrested on Wednesday in a dawn raid on a luxury hotel that FIFA used to host visiting officials, and face extradition to the United States on corruption charges.

The Swiss authorities also announced a criminal investigation into the awarding of the next two World Cups being hosted in Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.

U.S. authorities said nine soccer officials and five sports media and promotions executives faced corruption charges involving more than $150 million in bribes.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a telegram to Blatter, congratulating him on his re-election, the Kremlin said on Saturday.

"The head of the Russian state expressed confidence that experience, professionalism and high authority will help (Joseph) Blatter in future encourage the spread in the geography and popularity of football in the whole world," a Kremlin statement said.Russia was interested in co-operating with FIFA in general and in particular in preparation for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, it said.

Reuters contributed to this report

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