FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Wednesday that he welcomed investigations from U.S. and Swiss authorities into alleged FIFA corruption.
Blatter made the statement amid new legal troubles for FIFA. The U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday that it had indicted nine FIFA and five corporate executives stemming from decades of corruption, while Swiss authorities opened separate criminal proceedings into FIFA's bid process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
"As unfortunate as these events are, it should be clear that we welcome the actions and the investigations by the US and Swiss authorities and believe that it will help to reinforce measures that FIFA has already taken to root out any wrongdoing in football," Blatter said.
Blatter also lauded FIFA for taking "swift action" to ban individuals named by authorities from soccer-related activities.
Blatter is currently running for a fifth term as FIFA president, a position he has held since 1998. He is running solely against Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan after two other candidates dropped out last week.
The election is scheduled for Friday, and FIFA said on Wednesday that the election would proceed as planned despite the criminal proceedings. But UEFA urged FIFA to postpone the election and said it was considering boycotting FIFA Congress, which is set for Thursday and Friday.
Blatter was not one of the individuals indicted, and FIFA said that Blatter is not part of the investigation.
Blatter's full statement is below:
This is a difficult time for football, the fans and for FIFA as an organisation. We understand the disappointment that many have expressed and I know that the events of today will impact the way in which many people view us.
As unfortunate as these events are, it should be clear that we welcome the actions and the investigations by the US and Swiss authorities and believe that it will help to reinforce measures that FIFA has already taken to root out any wrongdoing in football.
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. 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.
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. Following the events of today, the independent Ethics Committee – which is in the midst of its own proceedings regarding the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups - took swift action to provisionally ban those individuals named by the authorities from any football-related activities at the national and international level. These actions are on top of similar steps that FIFA has taken over the past year to exclude any members who violate our own Code of Ethics.
We will continue to work with the relevant authorities and we will work vigorously within FIFA in order to root out any misconduct, to regain your trust and ensure that football worldwide is free from wrongdoing
- Stanley Kay