Blatter hits back at US Attorney General, says “something smells” about the investigation

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Sepp Blatter has publicly spoken at length about the U.S. investigation that led to the arrest of seven FIFA officials in Zurich on money laundering, racketeering, and fraud charges.

The FIFA overlord told Swiss broadcasting channel RTS that to him, “there is something that smells” about the investigation, considering the timing.

“With all the respect to the judicial system of the U.S. with a new minister of justice,” Blatter said. “The Americans, if they have a financial crime that regards American citizens then they must arrest these people there and not in Zurich when we have a congress.”

[ MORE: Follow all the FIFA investigation news ]

It’s no surprise that Blatter has taken to the offensive to protect the reputation of his organization, but if the United States honestly had the intention of disrupting the FIFA election and undermining his campaign, they would have swooped in much sooner and allowed additional information to disseminate. Instead, it’s much more likely they chose the Zurich meeting to make their move because they knew many of their targets would be gathered in one place, making the arrests much simpler than trying to coordinate a joint effort across the globe and risking the flight of some.

“The United States, it is the main sponsors of the Hashemite kingdom,” Blatter said, referring to the home country of his opponent for the FIFA presidency, Jordinian Prince Ali bin al-Hussein “The Americans were the candidates for the World Cup of 2022 and they lost. The English were the candidates for 2018 and they lost, so it was really with the English media and the American movement that came down.”

[ MORE: IRS official says more indictments are likely to come ]

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch made a sweeping and damning indictment of FIFA’s inner workings during her announcement of the arrests, and Blatter fired back, saying, “I was shocked by what she said. As a president I would never make a statement about another organization without knowing.”

Russian president Vladimir Putin, one of the few UEFA member organizations to back Blatter largely thanks to their victory in the 2018 World Cup bid, sent Blatter a telegram (people still do that?!) to congratulate him on winning the FIFA election. A spokesman from the Kremlin said Putin “expressed confidence that experience, professionalism and high authority will help Blatter and further promote the expansion of the geography and popularity of football in the whole world. Putin emphasized that Russia is interested in and ready for collaboration with FIFA in general and in the preparations for the [2018] World Cup.”