THE LATEST: Putin accuses US of meddling in FIFA affairs
ZURICH (AP) The Latest on FIFA developments:
12:31 a.m. (2231 GMT, 6:31 p.m. EDT)
The United States says it will vote for Jordan's Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein for FIFA president on Friday and not for incumbent Sepp Blatter.
U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati made the announcement on a telephone conference call Thursday.
Gulati, a member of FIFA's executive committee who is in Zurich, says Ali ''is an active proponent of reform at FIFA.''
''If you get good governance and good leadership, you make good decisions, and those good decisions will lead to the right outcomes,'' Gulati said, ''whether it's where World Cups are played or how many teams are in World Cups or anything else. So for us, this is a vote for good governance.''
Gulati also says Canadian Soccer Association President Victor Montagliani told him Canada will vote for Ali.
11:48 p.m. (2148 GMT, 5:48 p.m. EDT)
Former FIFA vice president Jack Warner has left a jail in Trinidad by ambulance a day after he was charged in a U.S. corruption case that has led to the arrests of more than a dozen international soccer officials and businessman.
Judicial officer Abraham Ali said Warner had complained of exhaustion and was not able to face questions from reporters gathered outside the jail.
Warner surrendered to authorities Wednesday and was granted a $395,000 bond but spent the night in jail. He is facing eight counts against him including conspiracy to defraud and engage in racketeering. He has not entered a plea and is expected to appear in court in July.
Warner was forced out of FIFA in 2011 over a bribery scandal. He has denied any wrongdoing.
10:45 p.m. (2045 GMT, 4:45 p.m. EDT)
The head of the Brazilian soccer confederation, FIFA executive committee member Marco Polo Del Nero, has left Zurich on the eve of the governing body's presidential election to return home.
FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer confirmed that Del Nero had left Switzerland on Thursday to fly home to Brazil. As an executive committee member, he was set to attend Friday's FIFA Congress and oversee Brazil's vote in the election between incumbent Sepp Blatter and challenger Prince Ali of Jordan.
Fischer did not provide a reason for Del Nero's departure.
10:31 p.m. (2031 GMT, 4:31 p.m. EDT)
The FIFA corruption scandal is having wide-ranging implications in soccer-loving Brazil.
The country's justice minister, Jose Eduardo Cardozo, has asked federal police to see if the U.S. probe into FIFA could help identify crimes that may have been committed by Brazilian sport officials and businessmen.
After being visited by police agents, the Rio de Janeiro-based Klefer Sports Marketing company said it had turned over all the documents requested pertaining to its contract with the Brazilian soccer confederation for marketing rights to the domestic soccer championship. Klefer signed the contract together with Traffic, a Brazilian sports marketing company that American officials are investigating.
Meanwhile, the Brazilian Senate on Thursday approved the request made by former soccer star and now Senator Romario for the creation of a congressional panel to investigate corruption in soccer.
In Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian confederation ordered the removal of the name of Jose Maria Marin from its lavish building.
The 83-year-old Marin, a former confederation president, is one of 14 senior sports officials and executives charged with taking part in the FIFA bribery and kickback scheme. He was arrested in Zurich on Wednesday.
9:39 p.m. (1939 GMT, 3:39 p.m. EDT)
Following a U.S. extradition request, a judge in Buenos Aires has ordered the arrest of three Argentine businessmen in connection with the FIFA corruption scandal.
Judge Marcelo Martinez de Giorgi told local radio Thursday that he has issued arrest orders for Alejandro Burzaco, the president of Argentine sports marketing firm Torneos y Competencias, as well as Mariano and Hugo Jinkis, the owners of Argentina-based sports media business Full Play.
The judge says Interpol ''is working'' on his request.
The three men are accused of bribing officials at the Conmebol and CONCACAF confederations for TV and marketing rights of continental tournaments.
8:05 p.m. (1805 GMT, 2:05 p.m. EDT)
IOC President Thomas Bach says Sepp Blatter and FIFA can learn from the way the Olympic body cleaned itself up after the Salt Lake City scandal.
Bach urged Blatter - who is also an IOC member - to ''take all necessary measures'' following the U.S. and Swiss corruption investigations that rocked FIFA this week ahead of Friday's presidential election.
Bach cited the ''sad and difficult days for FIFA'' in his speech Thursday at the opening ceremony of the FIFA congress in Zurich.
''In the IOC we know from experience 15 years ago that this fight is challenging and painful,'' Bach said, referring to the vote-buying scandal involving Salt Lake City's winning bid for the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Ten International Olympic Committee members resigned or were expelled for accepting cash, gifts and other inducements. The IOC also approved a raft of reforms that included tighter ethics rules and a ban on member visits to bid cities.
Bach encouraged Blatter to ''strengthen your cooperation with the relevant authorities, to shed full light on all the concerned matters and to take all the necessary measures by means of your new structures which you recently created in order to properly address such grave allegations.''
7:23 p.m. (1723 GMT, 1:23 p.m. EDT)
A Kuwaiti sheikh who is set to join FIFA's executive committee on Friday has criticized the ''Hollywood-style'' raid by Swiss police on the FIFA hotel in Zurich as part of a U.S. investigation into corruption.
Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, already a powerful Olympic powerbroker, questioned whether the American probe stems from the country losing out on the 2022 World Cup to Qatar and its tense relationship with 2018 host Russia over the Ukraine conflict.
''Is it because they (the U.S) want to kill FIFA? Is it because they (US) didn't win the election?'' Sheikh Ahmad told The Associated Press, referencing the 2010 vote on World Cup hosts. ''Is it related to the Ukraine-Russian war? A lot of questions (are being) raised ... maybe not a lot of people can say it.''
Sheikh Ahmad, who heads the Association of National Olympic Committees, endorsed Sepp Blatter to win a fifth term as FIFA president in the election on Friday.
''He is the best from the names we are seeing on the list of who is running for the leadership of this organization,'' Sheikh Ahmad said. ''He is the most qualified one to continue.''
6:45 p.m. (1645 GMT, 12:45 EDT)
CONCACAF says it has provisionally banned its president, Jeffrey Webb, after he was detained by police in Zurich as part of a U.S. investigation into soccer corruption.
Alfredo Hawit from Honduras, who was named president of the North American confederation, said in a statement that it had become ''the victim of fraud'' and was cooperating with government investigators.
Webb was provisionally suspended on Wednesday from his role as FIFA vice president and all soccer activities.
Soccer officials have come under increasing pressure amid U.S. and Swiss federal investigations into high-level corruption tearing at FIFA and the world's most popular sport.
6:45 p.m. (1645 GMT, 12:45 EDT)
Switzerland's sports minister said the country was doing its duty arresting FIFA officials for an American probe of corruption in soccer.
Ueli Maurer told the FIFA congress on Thursday that Switzerland ''fulfills its international treaty obligations'' to provide legal assistance. He said Switzerland ''strongly condemns any form of corruption'' and is committed to fighting it.
Two FIFA vice presidents and two presidents of FIFA member federations were among seven men arrested Wednesday at the request of United States federal agencies.
They are suspected a wide-ranging case of bribery, money laundering and wire fraud linked to marketing rights worth hundreds of millions of dollars for tournaments in North and South America.
A separate Swiss federal probe into possible ''criminal mismanagement'' in the 2018-2022 World Cup votes must proceed in due course, Maurer said.
Swiss police seized evidence from FIFA headquarters in a raid early Wednesday.
6:45 p.m. (1645 GMT, 12:45 EDT)
Swiss authorities say that a soccer official who had agreed to be extradited to the United States has changed his mind and now plans to fight the U.S. request.
The unnamed soccer official was detained Wednesday together with six others while visiting Switzerland for a meeting of the game's governing body FIFA.
Unlike the others, he had initially agreed to a simplified extradition procedure that would have allowed him to be handed over within days to the U.S., to face corruption charges.
Swiss Justice Ministry spokesman Folco Galli said the seventh official ''declared in a second hearing (Thursday) that he plans to resist the extradition.''
The United States has 40 days to submit a formal extradition request for the men, who continue to be held in detention.
6:00 p.m. (1600 GMT, 12:00 EDT)
FIFA President Sepp Blatter says an American federal probe into soccer corruption brings ''shame and humiliation'' upon the sport.
Blatter blamed the ''actions of individuals'' and said ''it has to be stopped now'' to prevent FIFA's reputation from being ''dragged through the mud.''
Though Blatter told FIFA's 209 member federations Thursday that events ''demand change from us all,'' he said he intends to continue leading FIFA through its problems.
American and Swiss authorities are pursuing separate federal investigations, respectively, into racketeering and the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting votes.
''I know many people hold me ultimately responsible for the actions and reputation of the global football community, whether it's a decision for the hosting of a World Cup or a corruption scandal,'' Blatter said. ''We, or I, cannot monitor everyone all of the time. If people want to do wrong, they will also try to hide it.''
He said he had a responsibility ''for the reputation and well-being of our organization - and to find the way forward to fix things.''
Blatter says he expects more bad news to follow.
The FIFA chief tells his voters ahead of Friday's presidential election that soccer officials work ''not for greed, not for exploit(ation), not for power but because of love for the game.''
6:00 p.m. (1800 GMT, 12:00 EDT)
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said football in her country ''will only benefit'' from the corruption investigation centering on FIFA and other top officials in the sport.
The comments on Thursday come after Brazilian soccer was hit hard by the announcement of the investigation a day earlier, with some of its top officials accused of wrongdoing and a major sponsorship deal involving the national team linked to kickbacks and bribery.
Brazil's football confederation is now re-evaluating its contracts with its commercial partners, and a congressional probe into how local soccer is run is in the works.
5:00 p.m. (1500 GMT; 11:00 a.m. EDT)
Sepp Blatter has arrived at the FIFA Congress opening ceremony, making his first public appearance in two days.
The FIFA president did not respond to questions asking why he has not resigned after American and Swiss federal corruption investigations rocked world soccer on Wednesday.
Blatter defied a face-to-face demand Thursday from FIFA vice president Michel Platini to resign ahead of Friday's presidential election.
Instead, the 79-year-old FIFA chief will go ahead to a contest against Prince Ali of Jordan.
Blatter was set to make a congress opening speech to the 209 FIFA member federations who will vote Friday.
5:00 p.m. (1500 GMT; 11:00 a.m. EDT)
South Africa's sports minister has denied any wrongdoing by his country's government in its 2010 World Cup bid. Fikile Mbalula said: ''We've got no reasons to have sleepless nights.''
Mbalula was speaking Thursday at South Africa's Olympic committee headquarters in Johannesburg after the successful bid to host the first World Cup in Africa was implicated in bribery allegations in the U.S. Department of Justice's probe into corruption in world soccer.
One of the allegations was that the South African government and a bid official may have proposed a $10-million payment to former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner to secure his vote, and the votes of two other executive committee members. South Africa beat Morocco 14-10 in the May 2004 FIFA vote.
Mbalula, who wasn't in office at the time of the bid, said the South African government had ''no business'' with Warner. He also said the government hadn't seen the full indictment papers from the U.S.
3:50 p.m. (1350 GMT, 9:50 EDT)
UEFA President Michel Platini says some European countries might pull out of FIFA and the World Cup if Sepp Blatter wins a fifth term as FIFA president.
Speaking at a news conference in Zurich, Platini said through a translator that the European football body will be ''open to all options'' but insisted that he opposes a boycott of FIFA - even if longtime president Blatter beats Prince Ali of Jordan in Friday's election.
Platini says he expects that a majority of European countries - at least 45 - will vote for the Jordanian royal in the 209-nation election after UEFA backed down from a threat to boycott the FIFA Congress.
Platini said he told Blatter directly in a meeting on Thursday morning to stand down before the ballot - but the FIFA chief refused.
Platini lamented ''too many scandals'' and said ''FIFA doesn't deserve to be treated that way.''
With FIFA engulfed by a corruption scandal prompted by an investigation by U.S. authorities announced Wednesday, Platini said that Ali ''doesn't need money because he is a prince.''
3:50 p.m. (1350 GMT, 9:50 EDT)
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko says the FIFA scandal will have no effect on his country's plans to host the 2018 World Cup.
Speaking to Russian television in Zurich, Mutko said: ''Our bidding was conducted in a fair manner. Russia is not involved in corruption, everything was above board.''
Mutko denied speculation that he had been summoned for questioning in Zurich in connection with the alleged corruption case.
1:30 p.m. (1130 GMT, 7:30 a.m. EDT)
The Confederation of African Football has repeated its backing for Sepp Blatter and wants the FIFA presidential election to go ahead on Friday.
CAF's statement on Thursday followed one by the Asian Football Confederation also pledging its support for Blatter and saying the election should take place as scheduled.
Following a meeting Wednesday in Zurich, CAF said it ''opposes any postponement'' of the election, and ''reiterated its support for the candidacy of Sepp Blatter.''
FIFA is facing calls to postpone the election after FIFA executives were arrested to face racketeering charges from the United States Department of Justice.
CAF, which is led by senior FIFA Vice President Issa Hayatou, said it ''is following with particular attention the events that occur at this time in the football family.''
1:30 p.m. (1130 GMT, 7:30 EDT)
David Cameron's office says the British prime minister supports calls for Sepp Blatter to resign as FIFA president after corruption charges against several senior officials at soccer's governing body.
Downing Street says Cameron is ''foursquare behind'' Prince Ali of Jordan to replace Blatter. FIFA's presidential vote is due Friday, though there have been calls for it to be postponed because of the criminal investigation.
Officials say Britain is not demanding a rerun of bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Britain bid unsuccessfully to host the 2018 tournament, which was awarded to Russia.
12:30 p.m. (1030 GMT, 6:30 a.m. EDT)
FIFA President Sepp Blatter has chaired an emergency meeting with continental soccer bodies, while staying out of public view himself.
Blatter called together leaders of FIFA's six regions Thursday as world soccer is rocked by a U.S. federal racketeering case.
FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer says Blatter met with representatives from soccer's confederations ''to discuss the current situation.''
Blatter is resisting calls from European soccer body UEFA to postpone Friday's FIFA presidential election by six months. He is also avoiding appearing in public.
Blatter missed giving a scheduled speech to open a session of FIFA's medical conference in a Zurich hotel - his third skipped public appearance within 24 hours.
11:30 a.m. (0930 GMT, 5:30 a.m. EDT)
Russian President Vladimir Putin says the United States is meddling in FIFA's affairs in an attempt to take the 2018 World Cup away from his country.
Putin said in televised comments Thursday that it is ''odd'' that the probe was launched at the request of U.S. officials for crimes which do not involve its citizens and did not happen in the United States.'' Two of the 14 people charged by U.S. prosecutors have U.S. citizenship.
In a separate probe, Swiss prosecutors are investigating the awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar.
Putin said he is aware of ''the pressure'' on Sepp Blatter for his support of Russia hosting the World Cup.
Putin described Wednesday's pre-dawn arrests of seven soccer officials in Zurich as ''yet another evident attempt to derail Mr. Blatter's re-election as FIFA president.''
9 a.m. (0700 GMT, 3 a.m. EDT)
FIFA President Sepp Blatter has canceled another speaking engagement as he avoids appearing in public for a second day.
FIFA says Blatter will not give a scheduled speech to open Thursday's session of a soccer medical conference in a Zurich hotel.
Blatter skipped two meetings of continental soccer organizations on Wednesday. He typically would attend those ahead of Friday's annual congress of FIFA's 209 member federations.
The FIFA president would usually follow protocol and attend the UEFA meeting scheduled 12:30 p.m. (1030 GMT) Thursday.
However, UEFA leaders want to postpone the presidential election amid turmoil in world soccer after federal investigations by the United States and Swiss authorities hit FIFA on Wednesday.
UEFA is supporting Blatter's election opponent, FIFA vice president Prince Ali of Jordan.
9:00 a.m. (0700 GMT, 03:00 a.m. EDT)
World Cup sponsor Visa has made its strongest call yet for FIFA to act against corruption in world soccer, warning it could leave a deal that runs through 2022.
Ahead of Friday's presidential election, Visa said it expected FIFA ''to take swift and immediate steps to address these issues within its organization.''
''Should FIFA fail to do so, we have informed them that we will reassess our sponsorship,'' Visa said.
The statement responded to the arrests Wednesday of seven officials in Zurich as part of a U.S. federal investigation of racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud.
Visa re-signed with FIFA last year to cover the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, hosted by Russia and Qatar respectively.
4:30 a.m. (0230 GMT, 10:30 p.m. EDT)
The Asian Football Confederation says it still supports Sepp Blatter's bid for another term as FIFA president, and opposes any move to delay Friday's scheduled elections in the wake of a string of corruption arrests of some of the federation's top officials.
In a statement on its website Thursday, the AFC expressed its ''disappointment and sadness'' at Wednesday's events but also said it ''reiterates its decision taken at the AFC Congress in Sao Paulo in 2014 ... to support FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter.''
The European federation, UEFA, had called for the elections in Zurich to be postponed due to the arrests and allegations, but the AFC said it was ''opposing any delay.''
Blatter is seeking a fifth, four-year term in Friday's election. His opponent is Prince Ali of Jordan.