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FIFA presidential elections to go ahead despite arrests of governing body officials


 
 

Fifa's commu­nica­tions director Walter De Gregorio told a press conference this morning that the impending Presidential elections will still take place on Friday despite a monumental day in FIFA's history.

The long standing allegations of corruption and bribery amongst FIFA officials were handed a significant boost by the arrests of over a dozen FIFA officials and committee members in Zurich this morning.

"This is good for FIFA," De Gregorio told a hastily arranged news conference on Wednesday. "It hurts, it is not easy, but it confirms we are on the right track."

During the quickly assembled press conference, De Gregorio insisted that it was the governing body who had initiated inves­tiga­tions in November, and that whilst Sepp Blatter was not 'dancing around his office', he was calm about the situation.

Swiss police made dawn raids at the Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich, where FIFA officials are staying ahead of Friday's presidential election.

The seven FIFA officials were arrested after the US Department of Justice issued a 47-count indictment charging 14 defendants with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies in a 24-year scheme.

The FBI also raided the headquarters of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf) in Miami as part of a separate indictment into the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

"The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic and deep-rooted," said US attorney general Loretta Lynch.

"It spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks."

With a mass of international criticism and open hostility towards Blatter from governing bodies, his position as President is seen by many as untenable, even if there is an upcoming election.

But whether today's events will see a significant turnaround in voting from FIFA's 209 nations on Friday remains to be seen.

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