FIFA’s president Sepp Blatter doesn’t plan to set foot on American soil anytime soon.
At least, that’s what a documentary from ESPN is claiming, as Blatter hasn’t visited the United States of America for almost four years as he fears being questioned by the FBI regarding their ongoing investigations into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
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According to the Guardian newspaper in the UK a FIFA spokeswoman has denied that Blatter, 79, is intentionally avoiding travel to the U.S. and that he has received no contact from the FBI.
“The information from ESPN that the FIFA president is avoiding travels to the USA because of any alleged FBI requests is absolutely untrue. FIFA has never received any request from the American law enforcement.”
But according to those in the know, FIFA wouldn’t actually find out if Blatter and other bigwigs at FIFA were to be questioned about alleged corruption during the World Cup bidding process. However, the U.S. government would have to file an arrest warrant for Blatter if they are going to question him on the matter.
All of this slots in with the report regarding former disgraced CONCACAF President and FIFA Executive Committee member Chuck Blazer allegedly helping out the FBI as an informant as they continue to probe alleged corruption in the bidding process.
If you remember, earlier this year FIFA released its own verdict on the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups after American lawyer Michael Garcia filed his report on the goings on. Garcia resigned when FIFA released its summary on his report and Garcia’s entire findings still haven’t been published as several members of FIFA’s ExCo are currently being investigated by the ethics committee of world soccer’s governing body.
Blatter is currently running for his fifth consecutive term as FIFA president and the man who has led global soccer since 1998 is the red hot favorite to retain his position as the most powerful man in the game when the vote for the next president is made on May 29.
With the Gold Cup this summer and the Copa America Centenario next summer both taking place in the USA, it seems like Blatter may have to bite the bullet and attend at least one of those high profile events. Then, and only then, we will find out if the FBI has questions for him.
News on Blatter’s situation coincides with the news that former FIFA Vice President Reynald Temarii has been banned for eight years for taking money from now disgraced former FIFA ExCo member Mohamed bin Hammam, one of the key backers of Qatar’s successful World Cup bid, back in 2011. Temarii breached five sections of FIFA’s ethics code and this hard stance by FIFA’s ethics committee is bad news for dozens of officials from Africa and Asia who are currently under investigation after allegedly taking cash from Hammam.