Blatter lies low in Zurich

Blatter was due to address the conference 24 hours before he stands for a fifth term in a presidential election still due to go head despite Wednesday’s day of high drama on the eve of FIFA’s annual congress.

UEFA wants the election postponed in the wake of revelations that two separate FIFA-related criminal investigations have been opened, while FA boss Greg Dyke has led the calls for Blatter to quit.

The 79-year-old insists he welcomes the criminal investigations and remains fully committed to “rooting out any wrongdoing in football”.

Despite that statement, it emerged early on Thursday a second day would pass without Blatter running the gauntlet of the waiting press??by attending the conference as expected.

FIFA’s chief medical officer Jiri Dvorak said Blatter had sent his apologies, adding: “The president??has to fulfil his duty in the management of the situation. That is probably more important than to come to us, even if medicine is very close to his heart.”

Managing the situation includes dealing with renewed calls to resign, not least from FA chairman Dyke, who said on Wednesday evening: “Blatter has put out a statement saying now is the time to start rebuilding the trust in FIFA. There is no way of rebuilding trust in FIFA while Sepp Blatter is still there.

“Sepp Blatter has to go. He either has to go through a resignation, or he has to be out-voted or we have to find a third way.

“I think the time has come where the damage this has done to FIFA is so great that it can’t be rebuilt while Blatter is there, so UEFA has got to try to force him out.”

The FA had already come out in support of Blatter’s rival for the presidency??Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein, but UEFA nations will meet on Thursday to discuss whether to boycott the process.

Seven serving FIFA officials were among those arrested on Wednesday as part of a United States Justice Department investigation into corruption stretching back more than two decades.

In a separate development, the Swiss authorities announced they plan to interview 10 former members of the organisation’s executive committee as part of a criminal investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Comments