England questions elections; Uefa calls meeting: Fifa crisis fallout

Greg Dyke said on Wednesday 'there must be a question mark' over Friday's schedule Fifa presidential elections while Uefa's Michel Platini said that organisation would meet in Warsaw.

Journalists gather for a press conference at the Fifa headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, on Wednesday after  the Swiss Federal Office of Justice said six football officials have been arrested and detained pending extradition at the request of US authorities. Ennio Leanza / EPA / May 27, 2015
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England

England’s Football Association chairman Greg Dyke on Wednesday questioned whether Fifa’s presidential election should proceed following the arrests of seven of the world governing body’s top officials in a corruption probe.

Fifa has said that Friday’s election, when Prince Ali bin Al Hussein challenges incumbent Sepp Blatter, will go ahead despite the arrests and a separate investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

“As one of the associations who nominated Prince Ali, it will not surprise you to learn that if the election for president goes ahead, the FA will be voting for him,” Dyke said in a statement on the FA website.

“However, there must be a question mark over whether the election should take place in these circumstances.

“Clearly things are changing very quickly and our delegation to the Fifa congress in Zurich, which I am leading, will discuss the position and what we should do about it with our colleagues in Uefa when we meet tomorrow (Thursday) morning.”

Dyke, a vocal critic of 79-year-old Blatter, who is seeking a fifth term in office, described the day’s events as “very serious for Fifa and its current leadership”.

The seven Fifa officials were arrested in Zurich after the US Department of Justice issued an indictment charging 14 people with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies over a 24-year period.

The seven people, including Fifa vice-president Jeffrey Webb, now face extradition to the United States.

Swiss police also seized documents and electronic data after raiding Fifa’s Zurich headquarters as part of a probe into bribery allegations regarding the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively.

Uefa

Uefa chief Michel Platini said Wednesday in Warsaw the European organisation’s executive committee would meet in the afternoon amid corruption allegations against high-ranking Fifa officials.

“Our executive committee meets this afternoon and tomorrow there is a meeting of all the national associations so there’s nothing else to say until tomorrow morning or this evening,” Platini told AFP.

Europe’s top footballing body said it was “surprised and saddened by the events that occurred this morning in Zurich” in a separate statement.

Uefa also said it was “waiting for more complete information”, adding that “other statements will be made at the appropriate time”.

Its executive committee would meet in Warsaw later Wednesday before the Europa League final.

Swiss authorities on Wednesday said a seventh top football official was arrested following a US request in a corruption probe into bribe taking for sports contracts.

Swiss officials also announced earlier their own criminal proceedings being launched into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup votes.

Sepp Blatter

Fifa says it welcomes the indictment of several key officials and the criminal proceedings into World Cup voting because it shows corruption is being eradicated from world football.

Speaking hours after the arrests, Fifa spokesman Walter de Gregorio said the governing body “initiated this process” by lodging a legal complaint with Swiss authorities last year.

De Gregorio says Fifa is the “damaged party” and the action by authorities in the US and Switzerland “can help contribute to rooting out any wrongdoing in football”.

De Gregorio said Fifa president Sepp Blatter “is not involved” and also ruled out a revote of the 2010 decision to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar.

But De Gregorio says “I don’t go into speculation what will happen tomorrow.”

Russia

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko tells The Associated Press “we’ve got nothing to hide” after Swiss prosecutors opened criminal proceedings into Fifa’s awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Speaking by telephone from Zurich, Mutko says “we’re prepared to show everything” to investigators.

Swiss authorities say they are investigating the awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar. In a separate US investigation, 14 people were indicted on corruption charges and seven of them were arrested in Zurich.

Mutko, who played a leading role in Russia’s bid, says his country welcomes the investigation.

Mutko and 2018 organizing committee head Alexei Sorokin both told the AP they had not been contacted by investigators.

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