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Sports

FIFA chief Sepp Blatter questions hotel raid timing

media FIFA President Sepp Blatter has questioned the timing of arrests of top FIFA officials. Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann/Files

FIFA President Sepp Blatter questioned the timing of a police raid that led to the arrest of key football officials just two days ahead of Friday’s presidential vote.

Speaking during the FIFA Congress, Blatter said that the world football body might not be embroiled in its corruption scandal if Russia and Qatar had not been awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

"If on December 2, 2010, two other countries had been designated organisers of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, I think we would not have these problems today," he said referring to the 2010 vote.

Swiss police arrested seven officials, including two FIFA vice presidents, at a luxury Zurich hotel on Wednesday.

The seven face extradition to the United States.

Blatter condemned corruption within FIFA, but said: "It's not good that all this comes out exactly two days before the FIFA election.

"People talk about a coincidence, but I have a small question mark" about the timing.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin and other sports officials have spoken openly of a conspiracy or questioned the timing of the action.

Russia beat England to get the 2018 World Cup, while Qatar was surprise choice to host the 2022 tournament, with the United States one of the losing candidates.

Putin said Wednesday's arrests were "clearly an attempt to block the re-election of B
latter".

He also alleged that the United States was trying to "spread its jurisdiction to other countries" and that pressure was being put on Blatter over the decision to award the World Cup to Russia.

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