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FIFA, Blatter Under Fire To Reform, Postpone Election

FIFA President Joseph "Sepp" Blatter canceled a speech on May 28 at a soccer medical conference.

FIFA President Joseph "Sepp" Blatter canceled a speech on May 28 at a soccer medical conference.

The French foreign minister and his British counterpart have severely criticized FIFA and called for the election of the world soccer association's president to be delayed.

Laurent Fabius said on May 28 that it would "make sense" after the arrest of FIFA officials in Zurich the previous day to delay the election between incumbent President Sepp Blatter and challenger Prince Ali, scheduled to take place on May 29.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told the BBC on May 28 that there was something "deeply wrong at the heart of FIFA" and that it needed to be reformed.

UEFA, the European governing body, urged a six-month delay in the FIFA presidential election, amid calls from soccer officials and politicians around the world for Blatter to resign amid the corruption investigations.

John Delaney, head of the Irish Football Federation, said UEFA President Michel Platini had asked Blatter to resign but he had refused.

Meanwhile, FIFA’s congress opened in Zurich on May 28, as key sponsors, including Adidas, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, and Visa, called for the organization to reform itself or risking losing millions in sponsorship deals.

Speaking at the opening of the congress, Sepp Blatter condemned the "action of individuals" for bringing "shame and humiliation" to football.

He also said that, although many held him "ultimately responsible" for FIFA’s actions, he could "not monitor everyone all of the time."

Along with the May 27 arrests by Swiss police of seven FIFA officials on U.S. corruption charges, Swiss officials opened an investigation into bribery and money-laundering in connection with the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively.

Human Rights Watch said in a May 28 statement that the next FIFA president should ensure that countries hosting the World Cup be "required to comply with fundamental human rights norms."

Putin Accuses U.S. Of Meddling

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of meddling in FIFA's affairs and trying to prevent FIFA from reelecting Blatter as president.

Putin said on national television on May 28 that the arrest by Swiss police of seven FIFA officials in Zurich the previous day on U.S.-based charges is "clearly an attempt to block the reelection of Blatter as president."

Putin said he is aware of "the pressure" on Blatter for his support of Russia hosting the World Cup.

He also drew parallels between the FIFA arrests and the U.S. prosecution of former National Security Agency employee Edward Snowden as well as the situation regarding WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

"Our American partners are using these methods to achieve mercenary goals.... I do not rule out that the FIFA case is exactly the same," he said.

Meanwhile, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on May 28 there was "no risk" of Russia losing the right to host the 2018 World Cup.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, Interfax, and AP