FIFA president Sepp Blatter and its general secretary Jerome Valcke are not implicated in a corruption probe underway into the vote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, the organisation’s spokesman said on Wednesday.
“The general secretary and the president are not involved in this,” spokesman Walter De Gregoria told a hastily-arranged press conference.
Update: Swiss police on Wednesday raided the headquarters of FIFA in Zurich, seizing documents and data, the Swiss attorney-general’s office said.
The raids were part of an investigation already underway into money laundering and fraud involving FIFA‘s awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively, a statement said.
On Wednesday morning, a group of FIFA officials was arrested after Swiss authorities raided the luxury hotel the group was staying at.
According to the The New York Times, the group would be extradited to the US and charged for corruption, and more arrests will be made in the future.
The arrests come two days before the next FIFA presidential election on Friday. Incumbent president Sepp Blatter will be running for a fifth term. His only opponent is Prince Ali bin al Hussein after Luis Figo and Michael van Praag withdrew from the presidential race last week.
Something has long been rotten in the state of soccer, which seems to have a lifetime president in Blatter. On Monday, UEFA president Michel Platini accused Blatter of trying to hold on to power at any cost.
“You have to be capable of handing over the levers of power at the right time and not be guilty of holding on to it at any cost,” Platini said.
Platini had backed Blatter’s previous presidential bid after Blatter apparently promised it would be his last term. Platini has now thrown his support behind Prince Ali bin al Hussein.
According to The New York Times, Blatter is not a subject of the US investigation.
“We have seen the media reports,” said a FIFA spokesperson to AFP, “We will not comment at this stage”.
FIFA will be holding a press conference at 11am regarding the arrests.