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Jun 4, 2015 12:22 PM

The Latest: Blatter starts meetings on FIFA reform process

The Associated Press

1615 GMT (12:15 p.m. EDT)

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has issued his first public statement since announcing his resignation two days ago, saying he has already started the process of reforming soccer's governing body.

Blatter said Tuesday he would step down amid a corruption crisis that has shaken FIFA and soccer officials around the world.

FIFA says Blatter met with audit and compliance chairman Domenico Scala on Thursday to "instigate meaningful reform of the administration and structure of FIFA."

"I had a good, constructive meeting with Mr. Scala to establish a framework for action and a timetable. I am pleased to take advice and guidance from Mr. Scala," Blatter said. "I want a comprehensive program of reform and I am very aware that only the FIFA Congress can pass these reforms. Furthermore, the Executive Committee has a particular duty to share the responsibility of driving this process."


1408 GMT (10:08 a.m. EDT)

Military intelligence officers have raided the headquarters of the Venezuelan Football Federation amid the spiraling FIFA scandal.

Venezuela's public prosecutor's office said agents raided the Venezuelan organization's offices Wednesday to gather evidence for a criminal investigation. The organization's former head, Rafael Esquivel, was detained in Switzerland last week along with six other FIFA officials accused of taking bribes.

The raid came hours after the prosecutor's office asked that Esquivel's bank accounts be frozen as he is investigated for money laundering. Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro has expressed support for the public prosecutor's actions against Esquivel even as he's raised concerns about the role of the U.S. in the larger investigation.

Esquivel, 68, may face extradition to the U.S.


0940 GMT (5:40 a.m. EDT)

The British government says England is ready to step in and host the 2022 World Cup if the tournament is stripped from Qatar amid the corruption scandal engulfing FIFA.

"Obviously if FIFA came forward and asked us to consider hosting it, we have the facilities in this country and of course we did mount a very impressive, if unsuccessful bid to host the 2018 World Cup," culture secretary John Whittingdale told the House of Commons.

However, Whittingdale acknowledged that "it does seem very unlikely that another European country would host it in 2022" because Russia is due to stage the World Cup in 2018.

Swiss authorities are investigating the bidding contests for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments, and have seized documents at FIFA headquarters as part of their corruption probe.


0845 GMT (4:45 a.m. EDT)

South Africa's organized crime unit is conducting a preliminary investigation into bribery allegations surrounding the 2010 World Cup bid after being provided with documents by an opposition political party.

The unit's spokesman, Hangwani Mulaudzi, says a file has been opened and the unit will decide whether the information calls for a full investigation.

Mulaudzi would not describe the documents the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation received from the Freedom Front Plus political party.

Mulaudzi says the unit has "investigators looking into the matter."

Former FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer said in court documents unsealed Wednesday in the United states that he and other top officials at FIFA took bribes connected to South Africa's successful bid to host the 2010 World Cup.

South Africa's government denies it paid bribes.


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