Sepp Blatter releases statement; AFC reaffirms support

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President of FIFA, Joseph Blatter, attendsthe press conference following the meeting of the FIFA executive comittee in Zurich, on March 21, 2013. AFP PHOTO / SEBASTIEN BOZON (Photo credit should read SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP/Getty Images)

Football’s tarnished reputation took another massive hit yesterday as FIFA officials were arrested in Zurich due to corruption allegations. In what appeared to be a blitzkrieg operation, influenced by the US Department of Justice, up to six individuals were arrested at a hotel in Zurich, including FIFA Vice President Jack Webb.

Since then, revelations have been made regarding potential corruption scandals, with the South Africa World Cup in 2010 being dragged into the fracas as well.

With events unfolding at a dramatic pace, FIFA President Sepp Blatter was forced to release a statement on the matter yesterday.

“This is a difficult time for football, the fans and for FIFA as an organisation,” read a statement released by Blatter.

“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.

Photo Credit: Al Jazeera
Photo Credit: Al Jazeera

“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.”

Photo Credit: Guardian
Photo Credit: Guardian

Meanwhile, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has backed Blatter’s statement and urged for the presidential election to take place without change this Friday, opposing the thoughts of UEFA’s wishes to have it postponed.

“The Asian Football Confederation expresses its disappointment and sadness at Wednesday’s events in Zurich whilst opposing any delay in the FIFA Presidential elections to take place on Friday May 29 in Zurich,” said AFC as quoted from their website.

“The AFC is against any form of corruption in football and fully supports any actions taken by the independent FIFA Ethics Committee where wrongdoing may have occurred, whether such actions affect Asian officials or otherwise.

“The AFC is still undergoing its own process of reform and has taken many concrete steps in the last two years to improve governance in the Confederation, whilst recognising that there is still much work to do.

“Furthermore, the AFC reiterates its decision taken at the AFC Congress in Sao Paulo in 2014, endorsed at subsequent Congresses in Melbourne and Manama in 2015, to support FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter.”

Photo credits: thehigherlearning