Undeterred by arrests, soccer boss Blatter plots another great escape

Wed May 27, 2015 10:52am EDT
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By Brian Homewood

ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA president Sepp Blatter is a master of getting out from tight corners and his federation's initial reaction to Wednesday's extraordinary events in Zurich suggested he has every intention of pulling off another great escape.

Soccer's governing body was thrown into disarray when several of its leading officials, including vice-president Jeffrey Webb, were arrested in a dawn raid at the luxury lakeside hotel which for years has pampered FIFA visitors.

They were detained pending extradition to the United States where they face federal corruption charges.

Swiss authorities also opened criminal proceedings against individuals on suspicion of mismanagement and money laundering related to the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA soccer World Cups to Russia and Qatar.

Blatter, FIFA's president since 1998, was not among them.

It was a day FIFA's detractors had long waited for, after years of corruption allegations which critics say have not been properly dealt with.

The initial outside reaction was that, surely, FIFA's annual Congress could not go ahead as planned amid such turmoil, and even less so the presidential election where Blatter is runaway favorite to see off a challenge from Prince Ali bin Ali Hussein of Jordan.

Yet, within hours, FIFA's head of media Walter de Gregorio was turning the situation on its head.   Continued...

FIFA President Sepp Blatter announces Russia as the host nation for the FIFA World Cup 2018, in Zurich in this December 2, 2010 file picture. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/Files