Sepp Blatter has called into question the timing of a series of arrests and indictments ahead of his expected re-election as Fifa president.
The 79-year-old, addressing the Fifa Congress, at which he is likely to be given a mandate for a fifth term at the top of the world game , has been speaking about the events on Wednesday which saw 14 people indicted for racketeering, fraud and money laundering. These included nine current and former senior members of the football hierarchy .
And in his President’s Address at the Hallenstadion in Zurich, Blatter told the 209 member nations that there must be questions raised about the timing of the arrests by the US Department of Justice.
“It is not good for all this to occur two days before the election. I’m not going to use the word coincidence but I do have a small question mark,” Blatter explained.
But he also added that Fifa needs to pull together in its times of trouble.
“You will know that right now we are going through troubling times. I will not call them unprecedented.
“These events have cast a shadow so let us try to lift that shadow. Let us try to lift our spirits. We can’t let the reputation of football be dragged through the mud like that.
“They are truly at fault, especially if they are found guilty. They are not the entire organisation, those certain individuals who have forgotten that Fifa is based on respect, discipline and a team sport with the same goal. We need to be singing from the same song sheet, especially when we talk of the character of the organisation.
“It is our goal to share this respect with all of you.”
Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan is Blatter’s only challenger for the presidency, with the Swiss expected to extend his current 17-year spell in power.