Outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter is being investigated by US authorities as a part of an ongoing corruption probe, according to reports from Josh Margolin and Susanna Kim of ABC News and Sam Borden of the New York Times.
Both outlets, citing law enforcement officials, said authorities will attempt to flip one or more of the nine current and former FIFA officials who were arrested as part of the $US150 million corruption scandal.
“Now that people are going to want to save themselves, there’s probably a race to see who will flip on [Blatter] first,” a source told ABC News. “We may not be able to collapse the whole organisation but maybe you don’t need to.”
The Times reports, “Mr. Blatter had for days tried to distance himself from the controversy, but several United States officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that in their efforts to build a case against Mr. Blatter they were hoping to win the cooperation of some of the FIFA officials now under indictment and work their way up the organisation.”
Blatter was not arrested or accused of any wrongdoing in the DOJ’s 164-page indictment. He was defiant in the face of criticism initially, saying he wouldn’t step down because that would be an admission of guilt.
When he resigned in shocking fashion on Tuesday, he said he was doing so because the bulk of the soccer world outside FIFA no longer supported him.
His resignation came less than a day after FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, Blatter’s No. 2, got dragged into the scandal. The New York Times reported that law enforcement officials believe Valcke transferred $US10 million in 2010 World Cup vote bribe money from FIFA accounts to accounts controlled by arrested official Jack Warner. Valcke and FIFA both denied that he authorised the payment, and in a statement FIFA said the payment complied with FIFA standards and was executed by finance committee head Julio Grondona, who died in 2014. Still, the report drew the scandal closer to Blatter than was previously known.
A special FIFA congress will elected a new president sometime between December 2015 and March 2016, FIFA said. Until then, Blatter will remain the nominal president.
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