FIFA placed its own president under investigation on Friday in a widening bribery scandal just days before Sepp Blatter is scheduled to face re-election against Mohamed bin Hammam.
FIFA said Blatter, who is accused of turning a blind eye to alleged bribes being paid to Caribbean voters, must submit a statement by Saturday before facing an ethics committee hearing in Zurich on Sunday.
With both presidential candidates now under investigation, it is unclear whether next Wednesday’s election will go ahead.
“I cannot comment on the proceedings that have been opened against me. The facts will speak for themselves,” Blatter said in a statement released by his campaign advisers.
Bin Hammam and senior FIFA official Jack Warner were summoned on Wednesday to face the ethics panel on charges of bribing voters during a Caribbean campaign visit. The allegations were leveled by American FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer.
“In the report submitted by ... Chuck Blazer earlier this week, FIFA vice president Jack Warner would have informed the FIFA President in advance about alleged cash payments to delegations attending a special meeting of the Caribbean Football Union,” FIFA said in a statement Friday.
Up to 25 delegates who have votes in the election were allegedly offered bribes at the May 10-11 conference in Warner’s native Trinidad.
Bin Hammam requested on Thursday that FIFA also investigate Blatter in the affair that has thrown football’s governing body into chaos and left the scheduled election up in the air. Bin Hammam claims Blatter broke ethics rules by not reporting apparent corruption attempts.
FIFA’s ethics rules require officials to “report any evidence of violations of conduct.”
Bin Hammam, Warner and two CFU officials have been summoned before the ethics panel based on Blazer’s explosive file of evidence.
Blatter “had no issue” with the bribes being arranged, according to bin Hammam’s formal complaint.
Warner, a senior FIFA official for 28 years, allegedly said that “the FIFA President would have had no issue” with the payments. Support from the Caribbean has long been seen as crucial to bin Hammam’s hopes of unseating former ally Blatter.