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article imageFIFA scandal: More arrests ahead but Putin smells U.S. plot

By Robert Myles     May 30, 2015 in Sports
Zurich - Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s incumbent president emerged victorious against challenger Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein at Friday’s FIFA elective congress.
But with seven senior FIFA officials already indicted in the US on charges of bribery, corruption and money laundering, Blatter's moment of triumph could be short-lived in what's likely to be a troubled tenure.
The re-election of Sepp Blatter as president of FIFA, football’s world governing body, in the end, came as no surprise. But what Blatter hinted may be his last presidential term seems likely to be dogged by controversy as Richard Weber, head of the criminal investigation unit of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), carrying out inquiries into alleged corruption involving a number of FIFA officials. He told the New York Times he was “pretty confident that there will be a new wave of indictments.”
Weber continued, “We strongly believe there are other people and entities involved in criminal acts,” while refusing to give details of who else might be in the IRS’ sights.
Weber also refuted claims that the recent raids, carried out by local law enforcement at the instigation of the IRS, were timed in an attempt to sabotage Blatter’s re-election prospects. Russia’s President Putin, who backs Blatter, suggested a U.S. plot. Before Friday's FIFA presidential election, Putin had claimed, “This is yet another obvious attempt to spread [US] jurisdiction to other states. I have no doubt that this is obviously an attempt to prevent Mr Blatter’s re-election to the post of FIFA President.”
In his NYT interview, Weber refuted such claims stating, “I don’t think there was ever a decision or a declaration that we would go after soccer,” adding, “We were going after corruption.”
Given the number of initial IRS indictments (14 so far including seven FIFA officials), the IRS have clearly looked under a number of stones but Weber hinted more stones were likely to be upturned, describing investigations to date thus, “One thing led to another, led to another and another.”
What has now become a major IRS investigation with the possible involvement of law enforcement authorities in other countries stemmed initially from inquiries into the tax returns of Chuck Blazer, the former general secretary of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF). Facing a number of fraud related charges, Blazer cooperated with US authorities becoming the touch-paper that lit the fuse for the bombshell that landed on FIFA last week.
The scope of investigations into the operations of FIFA now seems likely to widen. On Friday, the UK’s Serious Fraud Office told The Guardian that it was actively assessing material relating to alleged corrupt payments to officials connected to FIFA.
The ongoing investigations may not be the only problems newly elected Blatter will face. Speaking to Sky news English FA president Greg Dyke said, "This is not over by any means. To quote the [US] Attorney General this is the beginning of the process not the end."
Dyke also said that England boycotting FIFA’s showcase tournament, the World Cup, to be held in Russia in 2018, could not be ruled out if supported by other European football nations.
In Friday’s election, Blatter won easily although his challenger, Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, could take some comfort from having garnered over one-third of votes from FIFA delegates in the first round of voting. Voting in the first round was Blatter – 133, Prince Ali – 73. But there was no return leg as Prince Ali withdrew from the election after the first voting round.
More about Fifa, Soccer, Corruption, blatter, Sepp blatter
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