ZURICH: Soccer’s governing body FIFA called the arrest of six of its leading figures on bribery charges a “difficult moment” but said President Sepp Blatter would not step down and that the next World Cups would go ahead as planned in Russia and Qatar.
“It is certainly a difficult moment for us,” spokesman Walter De Gregorio said. “It is a hard time for us. But this is good for FIFA. It confirms that we are on the right track. It hurts. It’s not easy. But it’s the right way to go.”
De Gregorio added that the election of the FIFA president, which is expected to return Blatter for a fifth term, would proceed this week as scheduled, saying the arrests were unrelated to the vote.
Swiss police arrested some of the most powerful figures in global soccer on Wednesday, announcing a criminal investigation into the awarding of the next two World Cups and plunging the world’s most popular sport into turmoil.
Those arrested did not include Blatter, the Swiss head of football’s multi-billion dollar governing body FIFA, but included several of those just below him in the hierarchy of the wealthiest and most powerful sports body on earth.