Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) President Sepp Blatter issued a statement Wednesday in response to the overnight arrests of 14 top officials, including two FIFA vice presidents, in Zurich, Switzerland.
This is a difficult time for football, the fans and for FIFA as an organisation. We understand the disappointment that many have expressed and I know that the events of today will impact the way in which many people view us.
As unfortunate as these events are, it should be clear that we welcome the actions and the investigations by the US and Swiss authorities and believe that it will help to reinforce measures that FIFA has already taken to root out any wrongdoing in football.
While there will be many who are frustrated with the pace of change, I would like to stress the actions that we have taken and will continue to take. In fact, today’s action by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General was set in motion when we submitted a dossier to the Swiss authorities late last year.
Let me be clear: such misconduct has no place in football and we will ensure that those who engage in it are put out of the game. Following the events of today, the independent Ethics Committee – which is in the midst of its own proceedings regarding the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups - took swift action to provisionally ban those individuals named by the authorities from any football-related activities at the national and international level. These actions are on top of similar steps that FIFA has taken over the past year to exclude any members who violate our own Code of Ethics.
We will continue to work with the relevant authorities and we will work vigorously within FIFA in order to root out any misconduct, to regain your trust and ensure that football worldwide is free from wrongdoing.
When Blatter wrote, "such misconduct has no place in football," he's absolutely correct. Football is a sport, and in sport, things like “racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies" literally have no place on the field. Such misconduct, however, has had a place in FIFA for as long as fans can remember.
The arrests, led by the U.S. Department of Justice, couldn't have come at a worse time for Blatter and FIFA. This Friday, elections will be held for the next FIFA president. Blatter is running against Jordan's Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, who glumly called Wednesday "a sad day for football." Amidst the scandal, FIFA is planning to push forward with the election, reported BBC.
Blatter is expected to win a fifth consecutive term as FIFA president.
FIFA also announced Wednesday that an ethics committee decided to ban 11 FIFA officials, nine of whom were named in Wednesday's indictment, from any football-related activity.