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Fifa's Sepp Blatter 'under investigation in US'

CORRESPONDENT
The departing Mr Blatter said: "Fifa needs profound restructuring"
Fifa president Sepp Blatter is being investigated by US officials as part of their inquiry into corruption at the world football body, US media say.

 

The news came hours after Mr Blatter, 79, announced that he was stepping down from his role.
US prosecutors launched a criminal inquiry last week, with seven Fifa officials arrested in Switzerland, part of a group of 14 people indicted.
Two days after the arrests, Mr Blatter was re-elected president of Fifa.
However, he said on Tuesday that it appeared the mandate he had been given "does not seem to be supported by everyone in the world".
Mr Blatter said: "Fifa needs profound restructuring." He said he would continue in post until an extraordinary congress is called to elect a new president.
No dates have been set, but it is expected to take place between December 2015 and March 2016.
'Bribes and kickbacks'
US officials quoted in the New York Times said they hoped to gain the co-operation of some of the Fifa figures now under indictment on charges of racketeering and money laundering to try to build a case against Mr Blatter.
Separately on Wednesday, Interpol issued a wanted persons alert for two former Fifa officials, Jack Warner and Nicolas Leoz, as well as four corporate executives. All six were on the list of 14 people indicted on corruption charges by the US authorities last week. 

The news came hours after Mr Blatter, 79, announced that he was stepping down from his role.US prosecutors launched a criminal inquiry last week, with seven Fifa officials arrested in Switzerland, part of a group of 14 people indicted.

Two days after the arrests, Mr Blatter was re-elected president of Fifa.However, he said on Tuesday that it appeared the mandate he had been given "does not seem to be supported by everyone in the world".

Mr Blatter said: "Fifa needs profound restructuring." He said he would continue in post until an extraordinary congress is called to elect a new president.No dates have been set, but it is expected to take place between December 2015 and March 2016.

'Bribes and kickbacks'

US officials quoted in the New York Times said they hoped to gain the co-operation of some of the Fifa figures now under indictment on charges of racketeering and money laundering to try to build a case against Mr Blatter.

Separately on Wednesday, Interpol issued a wanted persons alert for two former Fifa officials, Jack Warner and Nicolas Leoz, as well as four corporate executives. All six were on the list of 14 people indicted on corruption charges by the US authorities last week. 

Analysis: Richard Conway, BBC Sport, Zurich

Sepp Blatter's key advisers cut dejected figures last night as

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their boss announced he was stepping aside.

The air of despondency in Zurich contrasts sharply with that in the rest of Europe. English Football Association chairman Greg Dyke and others who have pushed for reform rejoiced at the news that the man who has controlled Fifa with an iron grip since 1998 was finally going.

The question now turns to who will replace Sepp Blatter. What sort of Fifa will the winner inherit if the promised radical reforms take place? What next for the World Cup hosts Russia and Qatar?

Unless the electoral process changes dramatically Asian and African countries will once again be the power brokers.

Given anti-European sentiments amongst many nations in those continents the winner will need to be acceptable to all sides.

With Prince Ali of Jordan backed by Uefa, could he now return and claim the Fifa crown he was denied by Sepp Blatter last Friday?

Earlier the FBI, Internal Revenue Service and the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, who is involved in the US prosecutions, all said they would not comment on the Blatter resignation.

In its prosecution, the US justice department said 14 individuals were under investigation worldwide for allegedly accepting bribes and kickbacks estimated at more than $150m (£97m) over a 24-year period.

Two vice-presidents were among the seven Fifa officials arrested in Zurich. They all await US extradition proceedings.

Brazilian footballing legend Pele told the BBC that the developments surrounding Fifa and Mr Blatter "surprised everyone".

"My position is like a player. I want to see football put people together, stop the war," he said.

"Fifa needs honest people."

Mr Blatter's daughter, Corinne Blatter-Andenmatten, is quoted by Swiss Daily Blick (in German) as saying her father's decision "has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with the allegations going around".

The arrests overshadowed the vote for a new president, which Mr Blatter won, defeating his sole challenger, Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan.

Prince Ali withdrew despite forcing a second round, having lost the first by 133 votes to 73.

Mr Blatter, who is Swiss and has been Fifa president since 1998, said he would urge Fifa's executive committee to organise an extraordinary congress "for the election of my successor at the earliest opportunity".

"This will need to be done in line with Fifa's statutes and we must allow enough time for the best candidates to present themselves and to campaign."

Further allegations of corruption emerged on Tuesday with claims that Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke was linked to an alleged $10m (£6m) payment of bribes over South Africa's bid to host the 2010 World Cup. He denies any wrongdoing.

A separate criminal investigation by Swiss authorities into how the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were allocated is also under way.

Australian football chief Frank Lowy said on Wednesday that the race for the 2022 World Cup, which was awarded to Qatar, was "not clean" and that he had shared what he knew with the authorities.

Mr Lowy said in an open letter that former Concacaf president Jack Warner had misappropriated funds worth $500,000 sent by Australia intended to develop the organisation's Centre of Excellence in Trinidad and Tobago.

The Australian government spent about $40m on its World Cup bid but received only one vote.

BBC

 



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