Two days after becoming the face of soccer corruption, disgraced FIFA President Sepp Blatter said June 4 he has already started working on ways to clean up the sport’s governing body.
Blatter, who announced his decision to resign on June 2 as the FIFA corruption crisis continues to build and spread around the world, tweeted a photo of himself sitting in a leather chair with a light blue jacket and no tie.
“Working hard on reforms after meeting Audit & Compliance Committee Independent Chairman Scala,” Blatter wrote, along with a link to a statement released by FIFA.
FIFA has been plunged into crisis for more than a week, ever since seven soccer officials were arrested at a luxury Zurich hotel ahead of the FIFA congress. They were among 14 people indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice on corruption charges.
A law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, has said that the 79-year-old Blatter is a target of the investigation. Blatter has not been officially implicated in the case. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is ongoing.
In his statement on June 4, the first since calling for new elections to find a successor, Blatter said he met with FIFA Audit Panel Chairman Domenico Scala “to establish a framework for action and a timetable” for his final months.
He made no mention of his status as a target of the American investigation. Instead, he kept the short statement focused on reforming an organization he has presided over for 17 years.
“I want a comprehensive program of reform and I am very aware that only the FIFA Congress can pass these reforms,” Blatter said in the statement.
In a separate investigation, Swiss authorities are looking into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests won by Russia and Qatar.
In his resignation speech on June 2, Blatter promised a final round of modernizing reforms before leaving office. That includes finding a date for a presidential election by next March.
He also pledged to bring in term limits for his successor and FIFA Executive Committee members, and tougher integrity checks for election candidates.
Blatter’s statement came after separate investigations into soccer corruption were opened in South Africa and Australia, and after the headquarters of the Venezuelan Football Federation was raided by military intelligence officers.
The South African probe revolves around allegations of bribery related to the country’s winning bid for the 2010 World Cup, while Australian authorities are investigating corruption claims surrounding Australia’s failed bid for the 2022 World Cup.
(GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer)