FIFA welcomes the corruption probes by US and Switzerland, the organization's head Sepp Blatter has said. UEFA has called for vote on FIFA chairman to be delayed, saying that the congress might "turn into a farce."
The world football's governing body provisionally suspended 11 officials who were named by the authorities in the latest scandal, FIFA chairman Sepp Blatter said in a statement Wednesday.
"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" Blatter said, in his first public comment on the arrests and investigation by the US and Switzerland.
The US officials indicted two current FIFA vice presidents and several other high-ranking officials for a long-running corruption scheme Wednesday. The total value of the arrangement allegedly reached $151 million (138 million euros).
One of the indicted, former vice-president of FIFA Jack Warner, asked for and accepted bribes during the selection for 1998 World Cup in France and the 2010 one in South Africa, according to the authorities. Warner, who is an MP in Trinidad and Tobago, insists on his innocence.
South African Football Association spokesman called the bribe accusations "baseless and untested."
Trinidad has issued an arrest warrant for Warner, the officials of the Caribbean nation have said.
FIFA triggered the Swiss investigation
Also on Wednesday, the Office of Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) announced that it has begun a separate criminal probe related to the distribution of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA Soccer World Cups, which are to be held in Russia and Qatar, respectively.
In his statement, FIFA chairman Blatter said that "it should be clear that we welcome the actions and the investigations by the US and Swiss authorities and believe it will help" with FIFA's own measures.
"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," Blatter said.
"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."
UEFA deciding on boycott
The news of the latest scandal come as Blatter prepares to win his fifth term at the head of the organization, on election set for Friday in Zurich.
European football's governing body UEFA, which supports Blatter's rival Ali bin al-Hussein, called for the vote to be postponed, saying it was "deeply schocked" by the latest developments which "tarnish the image of football as a whole."
UEFA also said it would consider boycotting the Zurich ballot.
"The upcoming FIFA Congress risks to turn into a farce and therefore the European associations will have to consider carefully if they should even attend this Congress and caution a system, which, if it is not stopped, will ultimately kill football," they said in a statement.
dj/rc (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)