German football supremo Wolfgang Niersbach said on Wednesday that the ruling body FIFA has been damaged by the day’s arrests of top officials. He also noted as damaging the probe into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup host selection. “It would be shocking if the grave allegations against FIFA members turn out to be true.
“What’s happening in Zurich days ahead of the FIFA congress is shocking and harmful for the whole of football,’’ Niersbach said in a statement. U.S. authorities accuse 14 people, including nine football officials including two FIFA vice-presidents – Jeffrey Webb and Eugenio Figueredo – of corruption “that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted.’’
Swiss authorities carried out seven arrests ahead of Friday’s congress in which FIFA president Joseph Blatter seeks reelection. In addition, Swiss authorities opened a separate probe on possible corruption around the World Cup host election for 2018 and 2022, seizing documents and other information at FIFA headquarters.
European soccer’s governing body UEFA opposes a re-election of Blatter and supports challenger Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan. Niersbach said an informal UEFA meeting in Warsaw ahead of Wednesday’s Europa League final would deal with the upheaval at FIFA. “We will discuss within UEFA how to act at the upcoming congress in the wake of these incidents,’’ Niersbach said.