Blatter, Platini meet at Sunday session of FIFA leaders
ZURICH (AP) — Sepp Blatter hosted Michel Platini and football’s other continental presidents on Sunday, in their first formal meeting since the FIFA president announced he would leave office amid a corruption crisis.
The closed-door meeting at FIFA headquarters was to help prepare for an executive committee session on Monday, called at short notice to set a date for the presidential election to replace Blatter.
Platini, the UEFA president, is currently favored to win a ballot that requires a four-month campaign by FIFA election rules.
The former France great, smiling and appearing relaxed, declined to discuss the content of Sunday’s meeting on returning to FIFA’s favorite Baur au Lac hotel.
When the presidents’ group last met on May 28, one day after senior FIFA officials were arrested at the same luxury downtown hotel, Platini urged his mentor-turned-adversary to resign.
Blatter refused and was re-elected the next day for a fifth four-year term.
Within days on June 2 he promised to leave office by March next year, under pressure from American and Swiss federal investigations of corruption implicating FIFA.
The presidents’ group includes: Issa Hayatou of Africa, Asia’s Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, CONCACAF interim leader Alfredo Hawit, Juan Angel Napout of CONMEBOL and Oceania’s David Chung.
Like Platini, Hayatou also did not address details of questions about the latest Blatter-chaired meetings, at a time when senior UEFA officials have suggested the FIFA leader should formally resign and leave now.
Asked by The Associated Press if he could be installed as interim FIFA leader on Monday, senior vice president Hayatou said in French: “I don’t know.”
Hawit of Honduras was attending his first confederation leaders’ meeting since being appointed in May by the regional body for North and Central America and the Caribbean to replace Jeffrey Webb.
Webb, then a FIFA vice president, was one of the seven men arrested in Zurich and among 14 indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice for an alleged bribery racketeering conspiracy.
On Saturday, Webb appeared in a federal court in Brooklyn after being the first detainee to be extradited to the U.S.
The 50-year-old banker from the Cayman Islands, who has a residence in Loganville, Georgia, pleaded not guilty to a range of charges. He posted a $10 million bond and was released.
Napout of Paraguay was elected to lead the South American body in March and formally became a FIFA vice president on May 29. He replaced Eugenio Figueredo of Uruguay who remains in detention in the Zurich area.
The FIFA executive committee will have a maximum of 25 of its 27 members attending on Monday with Webb and Brazil federation president Marco Polo Del Nero of Brazil absent.
Del Nero told FIFA last week that he was busy in his home country. In May, he left Zurich after the arrests and returned to Brazil one day before the annual congress elected Blatter.
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