Blatter out of sight as FIFA corruption scandal deepens
By Mike Collett
ZURICH May 28 (Reuters) - FIFA President Sepp Blatter kept out of sight for the second successive day on Thursday when he failed to show up at a medical conference the day after world soccer's governing body was plunged into another corruption scandal.
The embattled 79-year-old Swiss national, who rarely misses a FIFA-related event and usually stops to speak to the media, was also conspicuous by his absence on Wednesday when he failed to attend a meeting of African delegates, assembled in Zurich ahead of Friday's Congress.
FIFA's chief medical officer, Michel D'Hooghe of Belgium, told the medical officers: "President Blatter apologises for not being able to come today because of the turbulences you have heard about."
Those turbulences involved a dawn raid by plainclothes police officers at one of Zurich's most luxurious hotels on Wednesday leaving seven of the most powerful figures in global football in custody overnight and facing extradition to the United States on corruption charges after their arrest.
The Swiss authorities 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 football officials and five sports media and promotions executives faced corruption charges involving more than $150 million in bribes.
Those actions have sparked the gravest crisis in FIFA's 111-year history with confederations now seemingly in open warfare with one another, just a day before Blatter is expected to be re-elected as FIFA president for a fifth term on Friday.
UEFA, the European confederation, issued a statement on Wednesday calling for the Congress, and the election of a new president to be postponed amid suggestions it might boycott the event, but the AFC, the Asian confederation, countered by continuing to support Blatter and saying the election should go ahead. Continuación...