FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) president Sepp Blatter says he is in favour of the investigations conducted by the US and Swiss authorities, following the arrests of several high ranking officials on charges of corruption in Switzerland on Wednesday.
On Wednesday morning, seven senior FIFA officials –Jeffrey Webb, Eduardo Li, Julio Rocha, Costas Takkas, Eugenio Figueredo, Rafael Esquivel and José Maria Marin – were arrested by the Swiss police on the request of US Department of Justice.
These men, along with two more FIFA officials – Nicolás Leoz and Jack Warner – and four corporate executives – Alejandro Burzaco, Aaron Davidson, Hugo Jinkis and Mariano Jinkis – have been indicted on corruption charges involving more than $100 million in bribes and kickbacks.
FIFA held a press conference on Wednesday, in which Walter de Gregorio, spokesman for the world football governing committee, confirmed that Blatter along with general secretary Jerome Valcke were innocent of any wrongdoing.
And now Blatter, who will be competing against Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan in the FIFA presidential elections on Friday, says he welcomes the ongoing investigations on the charged FIFA officials.
"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," the 79-year-old said in a statement on FIFA's official website.
"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."
Blatter, who is expected to be re-elected as the president for a fifth term, insists that "such misconduct has no place in football" and those found guilty of the charges will be banned permanently from all "football-related activities."
"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," he clarified.
"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," he added.