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May 28, 2015 6:49 AM

THE LATEST: FIFA's Blatter chairs emergency meeting

The Associated Press

ZURICH (AP) The Latest on FIFA developments:

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.


12:30 p.m. (1030 GMT, 6:30 a.m. EDT)

Britain's sports minister says FIFA President Sepp Blatter must resign over corruption allegations in world soccer's governing body.

Culture, Media and Sport Secretary John Whittingdale said Thursday that "change in the leadership of FIFA is very badly needed."

Whittingdale said major sponsors should follow Visa and review their links with FIFA in the wake of corruption charges against senior FIFA officials.

"This is merely the latest sorry episode which suggests that FIFA is a deeply flawed and corrupt organization," Whittingdale told lawmakers in the House of Commons on Thursday.

Whittingdale said he was sure British fraud authorities would investigate whether any of the corruption took place on U.K. soil.


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."


11:30 a.m. (0930 GMT, 5:30 a.m. EDT)

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius supports the idea of delaying FIFA's election scheduled for Friday given the current corruption scandal.

Senior FIFA officials were among seven men arrested in Zurich as part of a U.S. federal racketeering case. FIFA's headquarters in Zurich were also raided by Swiss federal police for a separate probe of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests.

Fabius said on France-Inter radio Thursday, "There have been accusations of corruption for years." Asked if the election should be delayed, he said, "That would seem to make sense."


9 a.m. (0700 GMT, 3 a.m. EDT)

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has cancelled 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 bin al-Hussein 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.

The value of top-tier FIFA sponsor deals is not disclosed. It was valued at around $100 million for the 2014 tournament.

Visa signed in 2007 after FIFA's former financial services partner Mastercard sued for breach of contract.

FIFA paid $90 million to settle that case after a New York judge criticized its business ethics.


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 bin al-Hussein of Jordan.


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