Exclusive: Blatter decides not to attend women's World Cup final in Canada

Tue Jun 30, 2015 4:25pm EDT
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By David Ingram

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sepp Blatter, president of the world soccer governing body FIFA that is embroiled in corruption investigations, will not travel to Canada for Sunday's final of the women's World Cup for personal reasons, his U.S.-based lawyer said on Tuesday.

Reuters was unable to determine the specific reasons why Blatter, a Swiss national, had decided not to attend the final in Vancouver. Some lawyers with experience in international criminal cases said that Blatter would be ill-advised to travel after an indictment announced on May 27 by U.S. prosecutors against nine current and former FIFA officials and five sports marketing businessmen.

U.S. prosecutors have not accused Blatter, 79, of any wrongdoing, but his stewardship of world soccer's governing body is under scrutiny, sources familiar with investigations in the United States and Switzerland have said.

He announced on June 2 that he would step down as FIFA president after an election that is likely to take place late this year or early next year.

FIFA said in a statement that Secretary General Jerome Valcke also would not travel to Canada. A lawyer for Valcke did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

"Due to their current commitments in Zurich, the FIFA President and the FIFA Secretary General will remain at the FIFA Headquarters," the statement said.

The FIFA presidency involves extensive travel, and this will be the first time Blatter has not presented the trophy to the winners of the women's competition, which is held every four years, since he became FIFA president in 1998.

"He's not going to go to the finals in Canada," said the lawyer, Richard Cullen. "He has informed the organizers of that and cited personal reasons."   Continued...

FIFA President Sepp Blatter speaks during an event for workers building the planned FIFA museum in Zurich June 25, 2015. REUTERS/Kurt Schorrer