FIFA president Sepp Blatter will face pressure for an early departure from his post today at the first meeting of the world governing body’s executive committee since its corruption crisis exploded.
The meeting in Zurich has been called to allocate the date for a special Congress to elect a new president after Blatter’s announcement last month that he will step down.
That decision followed mounting pressure on FIFA following a series of arrests, including seven FIFA officials in Zurich, following an FBI investigation and separate probes by Swiss authorities into the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
There were also revelations of bribes paid for votes for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and increasing concerns from FIFA’s sponsors.
Blatter has stated he wants to remain in office until the new election to be held between December and March but UEFA wants the 79-year-old to step down as soon as possible, and by December at the latest.
Those pushing for Blatter to leave immediately include UEFA president Michel Platini and other European members of FIFA’s executive committee including England’s David Gill and Germany’s Wolfgang Niersbach.
A likely date of the FIFA election looks to be in mid-January – UEFA had been pushing for December 16 but that would clash with FIFA’s Club World Cup competition in Japan.
UEFA is also distancing itself from reports in Spain’s AS newspaper that Platini is ready to stand for FIFA president and already has the support of four of the six confederations, with Africa and Asia preparing to back separate candidates.
Platini is the clear favourite however, and were he to win then Niersbach would be a likely successor to the Frenchman for the UEFA post.
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that Brazil’s executive committee member Marco Polo Del Nero will not be attending the meeting in Zurich.
Del Nero was the delegate who suddenly returned to Brazil following the arrests in Zurich on May 27 of the seven FIFA officials on US justice department corruption charges.
One of those seven, the former FIFA vice-president Jeffrey Webb from the Cayman Islands, has agreed to be extradited to the USA from Switzerland.
Webb appeared in court in New York on Saturday and pleaded not guilty to charges including bribery and fraud. He was released on bail after his family posted a $10m bond but must remain within 20 miles of the court and wear an electronic tag.
He was also ordered to surrender his three passports, two UK passports and one from the Cayman Islands.