The corruption scandal surrounding soccer's world governing body continues to make headlines. But more than 24 hours after senior FIFA officials were arrested the man seeking another term as president was not to be seen.
FIFA President Joseph "Sepp" Blatter failed to appear in public for a second straight day after seven officials wanted by US authorities on corruption charges were arrested by their Swiss counterparts in Zurich.
However, he did hold an emergency meeting with representatives of FIFA's continental soccer bodies, who are in Zurich for Friday's presidential vote, in which Blatter intends to seek a fifth four-year term at the helm.
"There was a meeting today with the president with the representatives from the confederations to discuss the current situation," said a statement issued by FIFA spokesperson Delia Fischer and cited by the Associated Press.
However, the 79-year-old Swiss national failed to attend two scheduled events on Thursday; a gathering of African soccer delegates and a meeting with officials from soccer's European governing body, UEFA.
The Reuters news agency cited a Belgian member of FIFA's powerful Executive Committee, Michel D'Hooghe who said that the president had been unable to attend due to "turbulences you have heard about."
The only response from Blatter so far was a statement that he posted on FIFA's website, in which he conceded that it was a "difficult time" for the organization and that he and FIFA "Welcome the actions and the investigations by the US and Swiss authorities."
However, this has not been nearly enough to silence his critics, with international politicians weighing in on the debate about whether Friday's vote should even go ahead in light of the allegations.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the election must be postponed in light of Wednesday's arrests.
"There have been accusations of corruption for years," Fabius told France Inter radio. "It would make sense to take a bit of time, see what is true and not and then the authorities can adjudicate, but for now, it's giving a disastrous image," he said.
His British counterpart, Phillip Hammond said there was "something deeply wrong at the head of FIFA."
Perhaps more importantly, a number of FIFA's major sponsors, including VISA, Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Adidas have issued statements critical of the world governing body - and demanding that it move quickly to get its house in order.
Despite the criticism though, there was no immediate indication that FIFA was about to delay the vote, or that Blatter would withdraw his candidacy.
pfd/jil (AP, Reuters, dpa, AFP)