FIFA President Blatter Skips Women's World Cup Amid Scandal

  • Blatter's number two, Jerome Valcke, also avoiding tournament
  • Women's World Cup final takes place Sunday in Vancouver

FIFA President Sepp Blatter and his number two, Jerome Valcke, will skip the final of soccer’s Women’s World Cup in Canada following the arrest last month on corruption charges of former and current officials at the governing body.

Blatter’s presence in Canada had been in question since the U.S. Department of Justice charged 14 soccer executives with crimes including racketeering, money laundering and tax evasion. Blatter, 79, said he would step down four days after being re-elected to a fifth term in office.

“Due to their current commitments in Zurich, the FIFA president and the FIFA secretary general will remain at the FIFA headquarters,” a spokesman for the ruling body said.

Valcke canceled an appearance at the tournament’s opening ceremony and Blatter hasn’t left Switzerland since the scandal broke on May 26. He attended the 2011 Women’s World Cup final in Germany, when Japan beat the U.S. The tournament ends in Vancouver on Sunday.

Blatter also didn’t attend the Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand or the Copa America, which is taking place in Chile.

Two FIFA vice presidents were among those arrested by Swiss police on U.S. extradition warrants three days before Blatter was re-elected on May 29. The same day, police seized documents and computer data at FIFA’s headquarters as part of a separate investigation into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.

Blatter hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing, while Valcke has been linked to a $10 million payment that U.S. prosecutors allege was a bribe in support of South Africa’s successful bid to host the 2010 World Cup. Valcke confirmed the payment, though said it was not illegal.

Blatter and Valcke have hired U.S. lawyers. Blatter is represented by Richard Cullen, a former federal prosecutor in Virginia, and Valcke retained Barry Berke.

The Copa America final takes place Saturday in Santiago, Chile. Blatter attended the 2011 final, where he stood next to then-South American soccer president Nicolas Leoz at the presentation ceremony. Leoz is under house arrest in his native Paraguay, where he is fighting extradition to the U.S.

For more, read this QuickTake: The World Cup

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