Blatter cancels FIFA press conference
FIFA President Sepp Blatter cancelled his much-anticipated press conference scheduled in Zurich on Friday, world football’s governing body announced.
No reason was given for the decision. The conference was initially due to start at 1200GMT. It was then delayed by one hour before being cancelled altogether.
It would have been Blatter’s first opportunity to face the media following last week’s suspension of Jerome Valcke, FIFA general secretary and his right-hand man. Valcke was moved aside over allegations that he was part of a black market ticket selling scheme.
Valcke fiercely denies the allegations.
On Thursday, Switzerland’s Attorney General Michael Lauber’s office said FIFA had agreed to hand over Valcke’s emails, evidence Lauber had demanded as part of an investigation into World Cup bidding.
Aside from a possible black market ticket scheme, Valcke had already been implicated in an alleged $10 million bribe payment reportedly made by South Africa in connection with its hosting of the 2010 World Cup.
The Swiss investigation is focused on whether bribes were paid during bidding for 2018 and 2022 tournaments — awarded to Russia and Qatar, respectively.
If clear evidence of misconduct emerges, both countries could be stripped of their hosting rights, FIFA officials have said.
Blatter’s press conference following FIFA’s executive committee meeting was always going to be closely watched, with both the US and Swiss justice departments carrying out major investigations into corruption at world football.
Friday’s now-cancelled event was due to be one of Blatter’s final appearances under the media spotlight as the embattled FIFA chief has agreed to step down following a special election in February.
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