FIFA President Sepp Blatter is said to be concerned about entering the United States because of an ongoing FBI investigation into the governing body's awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively.
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Blatter Planning Visit to U.S., Admits Investigation
Friday, May 15
Graham Dunbar of the Associated Press reported that Blatter admitted there is an ongoing FBI investigation into former FIFA executives, but that the FIFA president is planning a trip to the United States in 2016:
Blatter told reporters Friday he will go the U.S. for the Copa America centenary tournament being hosted by the country next year from June 3-26.
"I will be there if elected," said Blatter, who is widely expected to win the FIFA presidential election on May 29. "Even if not elected, they will invite me I am sure."
Blatter acknowledged a reported FBI investigation into former leaders of the U.S.-based CONCACAF regional body, Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago and Chuck Blazer of the United States, both former members of the FIFA executive committee.
"I know, and this everybody knows, that in the U.S. there is an investigation against former people (that) have been in my government," the Swiss official said, "but it is nothing against me."
Blatter Reportedly Subject of FBI Investigation
Wednesday, May 13
ESPN's E:60 aired a potentially revealing look at Blatter on Tuesday night. As noted by the programme's Twitter account, it is suggested the 79-year-old is unwilling to enter the U.S. because of an investigation into bribery and corruption that could have reportedly altered the result of the aforementioned World Cup allocations:
However, as reported by Bryan Swanson of Sky Sports, FIFA responded quickly to these claims:
FIFA's own investigation previously found no evidence of corruption or wrongdoing. However, the FBI decided to continue its examination, which had been running for three years, in November 2014.
The aforementioned report suggests the FBI is likely to call on Michael Garcia's findings; he carried out FIFA's investigation, only to have a "disputed summary" released to the public, per BBC Sport.
Charles Sale of the Daily Mail reports that "[European governing body] UEFA have growing suspicions that FIFA lawyers will alter the Michael Garcia report to protect President Sepp Blatter" when an updated version is released.
Sale believes Blatter has only entered the United States once since the World Cup vote count was taken in 2010. He suggests Blatter "doesn't want to be questioned" over potential corruption issues. Sale also confirmed that Chuck Blazer, a former member of FIFA, is being used as an informant in the FBI's work. He is potentially the "American official" hinted at in E:60's tweets.
ESPN's Jeremy Schaap discussed the Blatter piece on SiriusXM FC's Counter Attack show:
The ESPN programme previously aired an episode focused on the inhumane working conditions for those constructing the stadia and infrastructure for Qatar 2022:
Blatter has been FIFA president for 17 years and plans to stand for his final term in this year's election.
He is expected to face Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, Michael van Praag of the Netherlands and former Portugal superstar Luis Figo in the voting stakes. As BBC News reported, all three were reportedly aiming to come up with a "joint strategy," perhaps centering on one candidate, to take Blatter down, but that has fallen through.
Owen Gibson of the Guardian reports that Blatter remains the "odds-on favourite" to land the post once more.