ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA chief Sepp Blatter said he was determined to “root out any wrongdoing in football” after seven leading soccer officials were arrested on corruption charges by U.S. and Swiss authorities on Wednesday.
Blatter, who is standing for re-election as FIFA president on Friday, added that the investigations will help to reinforce measures world soccer’s governing body has already taken.
“Let me be clear: such misconduct has no place in football and we will ensure that those who engage in it are put out of the game,” he added in a statement on FIFA’s website (www.fifa.com).
FIFA has provisionally banned the seven officials arrested on Wednesday from any football-related activities.
“This is a difficult time for football, the fans and for FIFA as an organization,” said Blatter, who is expected to be re-elected on Friday when Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan will be his only rival.
”We understand the disappointment that many have expressed and I know that the events of today will impact the way in which many people view us,” said Blatter, who is standing for a fifth term in office.
”As unfortunate as these events are, it should be clear that we welcome the actions and the investigations by the U.S. and Swiss authorities and believe that it will help to reinforce measures that FIFA has already taken to root out any wrongdoing in football.
”While there will be many who are frustrated with the pace of change, I would like to stress the actions that we have taken and will continue to take.
“In fact, today’s action by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General was set in motion when we submitted a dossier to the Swiss authorities late last year.”
He added: “We will continue to work with the relevant authorities and we will work vigorously within FIFA in order to root out any misconduct, to regain your trust and ensure that football worldwide is free from wrongdoing.”
The world’s most popular sport was plunged into turmoil after the U.S. and Swiss authorities announced separate inquiries into the activities of soccer’s ruling body.
The seven powerful figures in global soccer face extradition to the United States on corruption charges after their arrest in Switzerland on Wednesday.
The Swiss authorities have also announced a criminal investigation into the awarding of the next two World Cups being hosted in Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.
U.S. authorities said nine soccer officials and five sports media and promotions executives faced corruption charges involving more than $150 million in bribes.
Writing by Ken Ferris; editing by Pritha Sarkar