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FIFA Scandal: Transparency International Asks Blatter To Step Down
Transparency International has called on the President of the world football governing body, FIFA, Sepp Blatter to immediately step down from running for reelection.
TI made the calls following announcements by Swiss and American investigators of criminal proceedings against top FIFA officials for alleged money laundering in connection with 2018 and 2022 world cup tournaments and allegations of systematic graft perpetrated inthe United States and Latin America.
The international advocacy group insisted that with the weight of allegations of financial impropriety leveled against key members of FIFA, Blatter should immediately step down and the upcoming elections suspended forthwith.
The U.S. is currently seeking the extradition of the seven FIFA officials arrested in Zurich during a series of meeting aimed at electing a new FIFA president.
The U.S. Justice Department said it had already charged nine current and former FIFA officials and five others on broad corruption charges.
The indicted officials are accused of carrying out various fraudulent schemes over 24 years aimed at enriching themselves through the platform of FIFA.
Loretta Lynch, US attorney general said the individuals corrupted the business of global football to serve their pecuniary interests.
She described the alleged scheme as “rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted” in the U.S. and abroad.
The Justice Department also said that those involved in the scheme included soccer officials, sports media and marketing company executives, and other intermediaries who allegedly laundered illicit payments.
The indictment sheet issued by the departments also lists 25 co-conspirators. This is in addition to the 14 named defendants.
Prosecutors said the elaborate fraud spanned decades of the occurrence of the global football tournament including the South African world cup in 2010 where the officials are said to have been bribed to award the competition to the Africans.
Swiss prosecutors also said they are investigating a separate criminal probe related to the selection of Russia and Qatar as future World Cup hosts in 2018 and 2022 respectively.
Prosecutors said that American and South American sports marketing executives paid more than $150 million in bribes to the indicted FIFA officials to obtain media and marketing rights to international soccer tournaments.
The 47-count indictment also alleges that the soccer officials worked actively with the executives to disqualify competitors and keep financially rewarding contracts for themselves and cronies.
However Blatter hasn’t been officially indicted either in the disclosures of the U.S. investigations or the Swiss probe.
Meanwhile FIFA has said that it welcomed the litigation process but said that the congress to select a new leader of the global body would go on as scheduled.
It also said that since the arrested officials had not yet been convicted, it would not go ahead and suspend them as demanded in many quarters.
Walter de Gregorio, FIFA’s director of communications and public affairs who made the disclosure at a press conference on Wednesday also noted that FIFA was responsible for the legal process going on between the Swiss and US since it initiated the process in November 2014 when it lodged a legal complaint with the federal attorney.
“FIFA initiated the process in November last year. We provided all the information needed by the federal attorney including the Garcia report. This is all in our own interest. FIFA is suffering under the circumstances and it is certainly a difficult moment for us,” Gregorio said.
While he referred to the arrests as a difficult moment for the world body and that it would cooperate with the investigators, he said Blatter would still go ahead and run for re – election.
Blatter has presided over the global body for 17 years, most of the period that has come under scrutiny. But he has consistently defended the organization against allegations of financial impropriety and corruption.
He is to run for re- election against the Jordanian prince, Ali al-Hussein.