Soccer's governing body FIFA says the arrest of six of its leading officials on bribery charges is a ''difficult moment'' but that it will not derail President Sepp Blatter's bid to win a fifth term as FIFA boss. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Soccer's governing body FIFA called the arrest of six of its leading officials on bribery charges a "difficult moment" but said it would not derail President Sepp Blatter's bid to win a fifth term in an election on Friday (May 29). At a news conference in Zurich, FIFA spokesman Walter De Gregorio struck a defiant tone, saying a criminal investigation into FIFA's awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups was unrelated to the looming leadership vote. He also said he expected those World Cups, scheduled to take place in Russia and Qatar respectively, to go ahead as planned despite suspicions of mismanagement and money laundering linked to the bids. "FIFA's president as well as the secretary general are not involved in the allegations," De Gregorio told reporters at a news conference in Zurich on Wednesday (May 27). "I can't comment on the names mentioned in the media early this morning. "FIFA welcomes this investigation and is fully cooperating with Swiss federal authorities and the Justice Department," he said. "FIFA is the victim here in this pending investigation. FIFA is the victim." Asked if the election of the FIFA president would go ahead, he added: "There was never such an idea to postpone the congress nor the election, one thing has nothing to do with the other." Several high-ranking soccer officials, including two vice-presidents of FIFA, were arrested by Swiss police on Wednesday and detained pending extradition to the United States. Swiss authorities announced that they had opened criminal proceedings against individuals related to the two World Cup bids. The Swiss attorney general said the proceedings were separate to a U.S. criminal investigation into the allocation of media, marketing and sponsorship rights for soccer tournaments. Those arrested did not include Blatter, the Swiss head of football's multi-billion dollar governing body FIFA, but several officials just below him in the hierarchy of the wealthiest and most powerful sports body on earth. He said that Blatter remained "calm" and was prepared to cooperate fully with investigators. Blatter will be seeking a fifth term in charge of soccer's governing body in a vote on Friday, with Jordan's Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein the only other candidate for the post.