Montreal — FIFA President Sepp Blatter will skip the Women's
World Cup final in Canada, avoiding a visit to North America at a time when
U.S. officials are pursuing a criminal investigation into the soccer's ruling
Blatter's second-in-command, secretary general Jerome
Valcke, will also be absent "due to their current commitments in
Zurich," FIFA said in a statement on Tuesday.
FIFA Senior Vice President Issa Hayatou of Cameroon will
present the World Cup trophy to the winner of Sunday's game, The New York Times
reported on Tuesday. A FIFA spokeswoman said an announcement on the trophy
presentation would be made "in due time."
U.S. Soccer spokesman Neil Buethe said it would have no
The other commitments mean FIFA's top two officials will
avoid a trip to Vancouver, which is about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of the
U.S. border, while American authorities are building a corruption case against
members of the governing body.
Also read: Blatter not making U-turn on pledge to leave office
The United States has indicted 14 men, including nine soccer
officials and five marketing executives, and implicated them in widespread
bribery and racketeering in organizing competitions in North and South America.
Four more men have made guilty pleas.
Three former FIFA executive committee members among the 18
are accused of selling their votes in the 2010 World Cup hosting election to
support South Africa's winning bid.
Seven men, including two FIFA vice presidents, have been
detained in Zurich and face extradition to the U.S. No charges have been filed
against Blatter, but American law enforcement authorities have confirmed he is
part of the investigation.
At the same time, Swiss authorities are investigating
possible money laundering and criminal mismanagement at FIFA, mainly in the
bidding contests which awarded the 2018 World Cup to Russia and 2022 tournament
Switzerland's attorney general, Michael Lauber, has said
Blatter is not under suspicion but could be questioned.
Despite the investigations, Blatter was easily re-elected to
a fifth term as FIFA president on May 29. Just four days later, under pressure
from sponsors, he said he would step down.
The date for a new election will be set at a FIFA executive
committee emergency meeting on July 20 in Zurich. The vote for a new president
by FIFA's 209 member federations is expected in December or January.For
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