FIFA President Sepp Blatter struck out against the corruption investigation and arrests conducted by U.S. and European authorities on Saturday, saying he was “shocked” by the way the world soccer authority’s officials were arrested and called it a “hate” campaign.
In an interview on Swiss television, Blatter, who was re-elected a day earlier, said he believed that the arrests of seven FIFA officials in Switzerland on Wednesday on U.S. corruption charges was part of an effort by Washington to “interfere with the congress,” Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.
He also slammed the statements made by U.S. officials, including Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who had said on Wednesday that corruption in soccer was “rampant,” and tax official Richard Weber, who had said on Friday that he was “fairly confident” of further indictments in the case. On Friday, agents from the European Interpol agency also raided the offices of three Argentine businessmen accused by Washington of paying tens of millions of dollars in bribes in the soccer corruption scandal.
"Of course I am shocked. I would never as FIFA president make comments about another organization without being certain of what has happened," Blatter reportedly said in the interview.
Blatter also spoke out against UEFA President Michel Platini, who had earlier called for his resignation. UEFA had demanded that the presidential elections be delayed until the investigation ended and snubbed Blatter after his re-election.
"It is a hate that comes not just from a person at UEFA, it comes from the UEFA organization that cannot understand that in 1998 I became president," Blatter reportedly said.
In Friday's election, Blatter was up against Jordanian Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, but managed to win comfortably. Ali secured 73 votes against Blatter’s 133. “For the next four years I will be in command of this boat called FIFA and we will bring it back ashore, we will bring it back to the beach,” Blatter reportedly said after his victory.
Denmark’s Football Association head Jesper Moller called the election results "a defeat for transparency," while Football Federation Australia President Frank Lowy said he was disappointed by the outcome, the Guardian reported.
While Blatter is not being officially investigated under the latest corruption charges, many believe that he has a hand in the international soccer body’s alleged corrupt reputation, including the decision to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively. FIFA has come under fire for allowing these countries to host the sport's biggest event, because of Qatar's alleged treatment of migrant laborers and Russia's involvement in the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine. The body’s sponsors have also expressed concerns over its ongoing troubles.