Re-elected FIFA President Sepp Blatter blasted at the tactics used by the US anti-corruption investigators, saying the arrests two days ago were timed to interfere with Zurich congress.
Seven out of 14 senior officials and sports marketing executives charged by U.S. prosecutors of corruption and bribery were arrested from their hotel in Zurich by the Swiss police, two days ahead of the 65th FIFA Congress, in which Blatter won 133 votes against 73 from challenger Prince Ali al-Hussein.
Blatter said he was “shocked” at the way US authorities targeted football’s world body and slammed what he called a “hate” campaign by Europe’s football leaders.
“No one is going to tell me that it was a simple coincidence, this American attack two days before the elections of FIFA. It doesn’t smell good,” said the 79-year-old Swiss.
“Why would I step down? That would mean I recognize that I did wrong. I fought for the last three or four years against all the corruption.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin also expressed his anger on Thursday, saying the prosecution of FIFA top mangers could be one way of the United States to “achieve its own selfish purposes”.
The United States had lost the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, and England, another major critic, lost the 2018 World Cup to Russia.
Blatter said the U.S. was the “number one sponsor” of Jordan, home of Prince Ali.
Blatter also hit out at UEFA president Michel Platini, who had taken the chance to appeal to Blatter to immediately step down and asked him to postpone the election.
“It is a hate that comes not just from a person at UEFA,” he said, “it comes from the UEFA organization that cannot understand that in 1998 I became president.”