- The FBI is reportedly investigating former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner – charged by U.S. prosecutors in a recently corruption probe – with misusing funds allocated for Haiti earthquake relief.
- FIFA President Sepp Blatter has announced he will step down amid a massive corruption scandal.
- Elections to replace him will be held between December 2015 and March 2016.
- Nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives were indicted for corruption by the U.S. Department of Justice on May 27.
- Four more people and two corporations were charged and previously pleaded guilty; details of those charges were unsealed on May 27.
- The arrests are the culmination of a three-year investigation by the FBI.
- All 14 indicted face charges of racketeering, conspiracy, and corruption.
- FIFA has suspended the bidding process for the 2026 World Cup
FIFA has suspended the bidding process for the 2026 World Cup, which was due to begin soon with a vote in 2017, amid the ongoing corruption scandal surrounding world soccer's governing body.
FIFA's General Secretary Jerome Valcke , speaking at a news conference in Samara, south Russia, following a meeting with the 2018 World Cup organizing committee on Wednesday, said: "Due to the situation, I think it's nonsense to start any bidding process for the time being. It will be postponed," Sky News reported.
The bidding process for the 2026 competition was due to begin shortly, with the vote on the host country being made at the the FIFA Congress in Kuala Lumpur in May 2017.
Valcke was speaking for the first time since FIFA President Sepp Blatter's resignation, and defended his actions relating to a $10m payment he authorized, alleged by the FBI to be a bribe, from South Africa.
He said the payment — officially described as money designated to a "diaspora program" in the Carribbean funded by profits from the South Africa 2010 World Cup — as "not FIFA's money."
He added: "It was a request from official South African authorities and SAFA (South African Football Association). As long as it is in line with rules we do it. I don't understand what's the problem and why I am such a target in this question."
Also on Monday, the BBC reported that Sepp Blatter's successor as FIFA president could be chosen at an emergency meeting in Zurich on Dec. 16.
FIFA former vice president Jack Warner is being investigated by the FBI that he diverted money earmarked for victims of Haiti's devastating 2010 earthquake for his own personal use, the BBC reported Tuesday.
The allegations are not new. Back in 2012, Britain's Sunday Times reported on allegations that Warner had misused the funds, which he personally requested from FIFA to help the impoverished Caribbean nation.
FIFA complied with Warner's request and, in conjunction with the Korean Football Association, transferred $750,000 to a Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) bank account. Warner was at the time a trusted TTFF advisor and had access to the account.
Haitian officials told the Sunday Times in 2012 they saw very little of that money. The donation was earmarked for the Federation of Haiti Football (FHF) which lost 30 football officials in the disaster. However, its president at the time, Yves Jean-Bart, said it only received $60,000 out of the $750,000 total figure.
Back in 2012 when the scandal first broke, Warner, who's from Trinidad and Tobago, refused to answer to requests from TTFF to disclose what exactly he did with the money.
"I have nothing to answer to anybody," he told a local news outlet at the time. "Who wants to make allegations, make allegations," he said.
BuzzFeed News reached out to the FBI on Tuesday but it refused to comment on the case.
In addition to having been indicted by U.S. officials on charges of corruption while serving as FIFA's vice-president, Warner was last week also served with a "Red Notice" from Interpol, the international criminal police organization.
Disgraced former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner used $10 million sent by FIFA in 2008 to CONCACAF to pay off personal credit cards and loans, a BBC investigation concluded.
Warner was the president of CONCACAF (the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football) at the time, and the bank accounts to which the money was sent to were said to be controlled by him.
The sum, sent on behalf of the South African Football Association, was described by U.S. prosecutors as a "bribe" in exchange for the country securing the rights to host the 2010 World Cup.
South African officials, however, said the money was to go to the Caribbean diaspora legacy program, an initiative to help foment local football talent in the Caribbean region.
But documents published by the BBC on Sunday purported to show that Warner, 72, instead used $1.6 million of the total sum to pay off personal credit cards and loans.
The documents also show that JT Supermarket, a local chain in Trinidad, received a total of $4,860,000 from CONCACAF accounts.
The payments were said to have been made in installments between January 2008 and March 2009. The biggest installment was $1,350,000, paid in February 2008.
U.S. prosecutors said the money was then paid back to Warner in local currency.
Bank statements also reveal that $360,000 was withdrawn from the accounts by people connected to Warner.
Reacting to the latest revelations, Trinidad Sports Minister Brent Sancho said he was "devastated" by the extent of Warner's malfeasance.
"I'm devastated because a lot of that money should have been back in football, back in the development of children playing the sport," Sancho said. "It is a travesty. Mr Warner should answer the questions."
Warner, in addition to having been indicted by U.S. prosecutors on charges of corruption while serving as one of the vice presidents of world soccer's governing body, was last week, along with six people connected to FIFA, served with a "Red Notice" from Interpol, the international criminal police organization.
Football Association of Ireland (FAI) head John Delaney said FIFA paid his organisation 5 million euros ($5.6 million) to stop it launching legal action over France's controversial victory over the Republic of Ireland in a playoff for the 2010 World Cup.
France's Thierry Henry handled the ball in the 2009 match to keep it in play shortly before a late goal by William Gallas that meant the Republic of Ireland narrowly crashed out of qualifying for the 2010 South Africa tournament.
Late Thursday, Delaney said the FAI had a strong case against FIFA regarding the referee's awarding of the goal and the failure to spot the handball but that a "legitimate agreement" had been made with soccer's governing body.
A statement published on the FAI's website Thursday said:
The matter has been reported before in the media however the Association has, until now, abided by the confidentiality agreement required by FIFA as part of the settlement.
The settlement was reached following strong legal advice given to the Association regarding the case against FIFA, and was a legitimate payment that enabled the Association to put €5m into the Aviva stadium project. This is fully reflected in our financial statements which are audited independently. The Association accepted FIFA's settlement offer to avoid a long, costly and protracted legal case. The offer given to the Association was fully written off by FIFA in 2014.
FIFA's settlement with the Association has at no time influenced the FAI's criticism of FIFA as demonstrated by our consistent criticisms of Sepp Blatter. Furthermore the settlement was made without any conditions other than confidentiality.
FIFA's longtime president, Sepp Blatter — who said he is stepping down by year's end amid a massive corruption scandal — claimed Thursday he is working on reforming the soccer organization, according to a statement posted to fifa.com.
In the statement, Blatter said he was working with Domenico Scala, chair of FIFA's Audit and Compliance Committee, to bring "meaningful reform" to the organization.
"I had a good, constructive meeting with Mr. Scala to establish a framework for action and a timetable," Blatter said. "I am pleased to take advice and guidance from Mr. Scala. I want a comprehensive program of reform and I am very aware that only the FIFA Congress can pass these reforms. Furthermore, the Executive Committee has a particular duty to share the responsibility of driving this process."
Former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner threatened to release an "avalanche" of evidence relating to the activities of soccer's governing body and its outgoing president, Sepp Blatter, in a video released Wednesday.
Warner was one of six individuals served with a "Red Notice" warrant by Interpol on charges including racketeering, conspiracy, and corruption on Tuesday.
He made a series of relevations in an eight-minute-long paid political ad – titled "The Gloves Are Off" — for his Independent Liberal Party, released ahead of his country, Trinidad and Tobago, going to the polls.
In the video, he said he would release documents detailing the "financial transactions" of the organization and Blatter, and their links to Trinidad and Tobago's People's Partnership coalition government. He said FIFA officials tried to manipulate Trinidad and Tobago's 2010 election, but provided no evidence and didn't say why.
Warner added that he "reasonably, actually fear[s] for my life," and that "retracting them is not a possibility — there can be no turning back."
At the end of the video, he apologized for "for not disclosing my knowledge of these events before."
Around 30 minutes after the release of the video, Warner appeared at a rally for his political party. During a speech there, as supporters cheered, he said, "Not even death will stop the avalanche that is coming," AP reported. "The die is cast," he added. "There can be no turning back. Let the chips fall where they fall."
He also said he wrote to Blatter to urge his immediate departure from FIFA after the Swiss executive's resignation. "Blatter knows why he fell," Warner said. "And if anyone else knows, I do."
FBI also investigating FIFA for awarding winning World Cup bids to Russia and Qatar, Reuters reported.
Speaking to an anonymous law enforcement source, Reuters found that the FBI's investigation is going beyond last week's indictment and will scrutinize the World Cup awarding process. Russia won a bid to host the tournament in 2018 and Qatar will host in 2022.
Swiss prosecutors are also investigating the Russia and Qatar winning bids, according to Reuters.
Interpol, the international criminal police organization, issued on Wednesday a "red notice" warrant for six men with links to FIFA, at the request of U.S. authorities.
A Red Notice is Interpol's way of notifying member countries that an arrest warrant has been issued for an individual at the request of a judicial authority -- in this case the U.S. Justice Department.
Former FIFA vice president Jack Warner and former FIFA executive committee member Nicolas Leoz are two of the six wanted men.
The charges against them include racketeering, conspiracy and corruption.
Also wanted are Hugo Jinkis and Mariano Jinkis, two Argentine marketing executives with a controlling stake in Full Play Sports Group.
Brazilian José Margulles, controlling principal of Valente Corp. and Somerton Ltd., broadcasting business, is also wanted by U.S. authorities on charges of corruption.
The Interpol arrest warrants are the latest developments in a week in which the soccer world has been totally shaken up by a slew of corruption scandals involving officials at highest level of the game.
On Tuesday, Sepp Blatter, the man who for almost 17 years held the most powerful position in world soccer as FIFA's president, resigned after allegations that Jerome Valcke, seen by many as his right-hand man within the organization, authorized in 2008 a $10 million payment from South African football officials to Warner -- at the time one of FIFA's vice-presidents.
U.S. prosecutors believe the payment was a bribe in exchange for South Africa securing the rights to host the 2010 World Cup.
Blatter was re-elected to a fifth term in charge of FIFA on Friday but on Tuesday, in light of the latest allegations against Valcke, succumbed to pressure and announced he would be standing down as FIFA's president.
The 79-year-old is now officially under investigation by U.S. prosecutors.
Soccer's most prominent voices shared their reactions to Blatter's resignation. Ian Darke, a commentator for ESPN and BT Sport, wondered what took place between the FIFA presidential election on May 29 and his decision to resign just days later.
Vincent Kompany, who currently plays for Manchester City Football Club, asserted that Blatter's resignation would not be a cure-all to FIFA'S deep-rooted issues.
Others, like respected soccer announcer Arlo White, were more bold. White leads the commentary for NBC Sports on the English Premier League and the Olympics.
Taylor Twellman is a retired American player and was a main goal-scorer for Major League Soccer's New England Revolution. He now provides game commentary for ESPN.
Twellman appeared on ESPN Radio shortly after Blatter's announcement and echoed Kompany's sentiments that the resignation was just the beginning of lasting reform within the international soccer body.
"Before you ever see me doing cartwheels, doing somersaults and celebrating this, I remind everyone there's about four to five bigger steps in really reforming what FIFA is all about," he said.
Twellman argued that the way FIFA's executive committee is organized "begs for corruption," and that Blatter's stepping down was the first step toward real change.
Blatter is being investigated for corruption by federal law enforcement agencies, according to the New York Times.
Several U.S. officials told the newspaper that Blatter has been the target of federal investigators, who are reportedly hoping to enlist the cooperation of FIFA officials indicted last week on corruption charges in a bid to build a case against the outgoing FIFA leader.
Expert: Blatter cannot be prosecuted under Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter cannot be prosecuted under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a piece of U.S legislation designed to prevent Americans from bribing people abroad.
"This is clearly not an FCPA enforcement action," Mike Koehler, a professor of law at Southern Illinois University School of Law who specializes on FCPA issues, told BuzzFeed News. "There might be other U.S. criminal laws that could be at issue. To the extent that he was involved in the bribery scheme, some of the criminal charges that came up last week could potentially be at stake."
Last week the Department of Justice charged several FIFA officers with crimes ranging from racketeering to money laundering — but not with FCPA violations. Blatter has not been charged with any crimes.
In a post for his blog, FCPAProfessor, Koehler explained the reasons why the act doesn't apply in this case:
FCPA's anti-bribery provisions only apply to bribe payors and not bribe recipients and the various FIFA officials are generally alleged to be bribe recipients. Further, for there to be a violation of the FCPA's anti-bribery provisions a "foreign official" must be an actual or intended recipient of a payment scheme. [...] In short, FIFA officials are not "foreign officials" under the FCPA and because they are not "foreign officials" the FCPA's anti-bribery provisions are not implicated.
The DOJ deferred all questions on potential prosecution of Blatter to the U.S Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. The U.S. Attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Blatter's sole competitor announced he will be a presidential candidate during FIFA's extraordinary congress.
A Russian MP said Blatter has "colossal experience" and "will be in demand in the [Russian Football Union] as Russia prepares for the 2018 World Cup."
And Russia's Sports Minister, Vitaly Mutko, said, "For me his resignation was unexpected. From Blatter's statement, it's clear he wants to preserve FIFA, waiting for the continuation of reforms."
AP reports Sepp Blatter is not being investigated by Swiss authorities, according to the attorney general.
The United States Department of Justice has not said Blatter is under investigation.
Blatter said his resignation will allow him "to focus on driving far-reaching, fundamental reforms that transcend our previous efforts."
He urged that the "size of the Executive Committee must be reducted and its members should be elected through FIFA Congress."
"The integrity checks for all Executive Committee members bust be organized centrally through FIFA and not the confederations," Blatter continued.
Blatter has held the position of FIFA President since 1998, and during his resignation speech he voiced support for term limits. Last year, term limits were voted down by FIFA Congress.
He urged it is his "deep care for FIFA and its interests" that informed his decision to retire, and admitted the organization is in need of "profound restructuring."
Domenico Scala, Chairman of the FIFA Audit & Compliance Committee, clarified the time frame for an "extraordinary committee" to be formed to appoint Blatter's successor.
He claimed it will take no fewer than four months, and they are currently projecting sometime between December and March.
The next FIFA Congress is scheduled for May 2016, and Blatter said waiting until then would "create unnecessary delay."
He will remain President until Congress elects his successor.
Last week, Congress re-elected Blatter over his sole contender, Prince Ali bin Hussein.
In the first round of voting, Blatter received 133 votes, just short of the 140 needed to secure 2/3rds of the 209-member Congress. Prince Ali resigned before the second round, which required only a majority of votes to win.
It is not yet clear who will be considered as candidates for the extraordinary election.
During a press conference, FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced that he will resign. He was re-elected as President just last week.
Blatter said he will form an "extraordinary congress" that will determine a new leader.
Domenico Scala, Chairman of the FIFA Audit & Compliance Committee, predicted the congress would be formed between December and March of 2016. Blatter will remain President until then.
This is the letter that in 2008 was allegedly sent to FIFA's general secretary, Jerome Valcke, by the South African Football Association, promising the payment of $10 million to the Diaspora Legacy Program.
The program — geared toward the development of young soccer players in the Caribbean region — was at the time under the supervision of the Confederation of North, Central American, and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), led by beleaguered former FIFA official Jack Warner.
Warner, who at the time was the president of CONCACAF and one of FIFA's vice presidents, is one of 14 individuals facing charges of corruption by U.S. prosecutors.
If proved authentic, the letter above will validate the claims made on Sunday by the head of South Africa's Football Association, Danny Jordan, that a $10 million payment by South African soccer officials was made to an organization led by Warner. Prosecutors told the New York Times that the money was in exchange for South Africa hosting the 2010 World Cup.
Jordan said the payment was not a bribe, but a donation to the Diaspora Legacy Program.
The letter, however, in addition to instructing FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke to facilitate the payment, says the $10 million sum is to be administered by Warner, who "shall act as fiduciary of the fund."
Valcke, seen by many as Blatter's right-hand man within FIFA, has not been charged with any wrongdoing.
Federal authorities told the New York Times on Monday that they believe a top lieutenant of FIFA President Sepp Blatter acted as an intermediary for bribe money, transferring millions of dollars from a South African soccer official to accounts controlled by then-vice president Jack Warner. Prosecutors accuse Warner of taking a bribe in exchange of helping to bring the 2010 World Cup to South Africa.
Officials with knowledge of the investigation told the Times that FIFA's secretary general, Jérôme Valcke, is the "high-ranking" executive identified in a federal indictment last week as having made the $10 million bank transfer.
Valcke, like Blatter, has not been charged in the wide-ranging corruption case, and the indictment does not say whether he knew what the money was for. Warner, meanwhile, is one of the 14 people linked to FIFA who were indicted in the U.S. on charges of corruption.
In an interview with a South African newspaper over the weekend, Danny Jordan, head of the South African soccer association, acknowledged paying $10 million to Warner's Caribbean Football Federation, but denied the money constituted a bribe. Instead, Jordan maintains the money was a donation to the region's football development program.
In an email to the New York Times, Valcke said that he had not authorized the payment, nor did he have the power to do so.
However, if the bank transfer was his doing, it would place Blatter much closer to the alleged bribe and corruption scheme.
As the fallout of the corruption charges facing world soccer's governing body continues to reverberate, a South African official admitted to having paid $10 million in 2010 to one of FIFA's vice presidents at the time.
In an interview to a South African newspaper on Sunday, Danny Jordan, head of the South African football association, admitted that in 2010 he paid $10 million to a soccer organization led by Jack Warner, then one of FIFA's vice presidents.
Warner is one of the 14 individuals linked to FIFA who were indicted last week by U.S. prosecutors on charges of corruption.
Jordan denied that the money paid out to Warner's Caribbean Football Federation constituted a bribe, and maintains the sum was a donation to the region's football development program.
U.S. prosecutors, however, are convinced the payment was made in exchange for bringing the 2010 World Cup to the "Rainbow Nation," the first African country to host world soccer's marquee event.
At the time, four other African countries were in the running to host the tournament: Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Morocco.
Thought as an opportunity to expand soccer's popularity in a country where rugby and cricket still rule, the tournament and its aftermath left many in South Africa feeling disappointed.
Over $5 billion was spent in new stadiums, but some of the infrastructure projects that were supposed to be the event's lasting legacy never got off the ground.
Five years on, the stadiums built with millions of taxpayer's dollars remain empty — the country's domestic soccer league not strong enough to attract the crowds.
On Friday, Sepp Blatter won a new mandate to lead FIFA for the next four years, but remains under increasing pressure to quit the post he has held for the past 17 years, as the latest corruption scandal shows no signs of going away.
England's Prince William has called for FIFA to "reform" in the wake of corruption revelations and Sepp Blatter's re-election to a fifth term in charge of world soccer's governing body.
In a speech at London's Wembley Stadium on Saturday prior to the FA cup final between Arsenal and Aston Villa, the prince said there was a "huge disconnect" between soccer fans and those currently managing the sport.
William, who is also president of the English Football Association, compared FIFA's latest corruption scandal to the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002, in which a number of International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials were also accused of taking bribes.
"The events in Zurich this week represent FIFA's Salt Lake City moment, when the International Olympic Committee went through a similar period of serious allegations," William said. "FIFA, like the IOC, must now show that it can represent the interests of fair play and put the sport first."
It is unusual for members of the English royal family to comment on controversial matters. William, however, in addition to being president of the English Football Association, was part of the 2018 World Cup bidding team — but lost out to Russia on the rights to host that World Cup.
That decision, along with granting Qatar the rights to host the 2022 World Cup, is now also under investigation by Swiss authorities.
Below is Prince William's Saturday speech in its entirety:
As a football fan and the impartial President of the FA, I always look forward to the Cup Final with huge enthusiasm and this year has been no exception. I sincerely believe that the FA Cup represents all that is good in this beautiful game and the Cup Final is always a fitting celebration of the joy, passion and unity that the game can bring.
I don't wish to bring down the tone of this party too much, but if I may I would like to say some words about events this week in Switzerland.
There seems to be a huge disconnect between the sense of fair play that guides those playing and supporting the game, and the allegations of corruption that have long lingered around the management of the sport internationally.
The events in Zurich this week represent Fifa's Salt Lake City moment, when the International Olympic Committee went through a similar period of serious allegations. Fifa, like the IOC, must now show that it can represent the interests of fair play and put the sport first.
Those backing Fifa, such as sponsors and the regional confederations, must do their bit to press these reforms – we are doing football and its fans no favours if we do not. I have no doubt that when Fifa reforms, its mission to spread the benefits of the game to more people, especially those in developing countries, can only be enhanced.
At this juncture, if I may, I know I join with all of you in commending David Gill for his decision to stand down from the ExCo, and to lead by example by doing so.
Our own game in this country has been taking a critical look at itself under Greg Dyke's leadership. As we all know in this room, to improve, to better represent the modern game, we must take tough decisions. We must ensure that the quality and the richness of the game at the highest levels is shared more generously at the grassroots; we must ensure that home-grown talent is better nurtured; and we must continue to kick out racism for good from our game.
I feel we need to ensure that we become the gold standard of sporting governance. A modern, transparent and inclusive organisation – representative of the broad and diverse society who play and love our game. Over the next few years, if we want credibly to influence the debate on reform in Fifa, we must continue to strive for excellence in our own organisation. It's not easy to do so, but it is worth it – and, to that end, I commend the process you are on, and I'll be watching it closely.
I feel there is a tremendous amount to be positive about as we look ahead for the next 12 months. The women will be competing in their World Cup this summer with a fantastic opportunity for tournament success – despite what happened in Calgary yesterday. Women's sport is so important for the sporting culture and wellbeing of the UK. On a recent visit to St George's Park, I saw first-hand how seriously the team have been preparing for this tournament. They look like a highly determined, professional team and I wish them every success.
With the Men's Team, Roy and his squad are hard at work building to what we hope will be success next summer at the Euros in France. Off the pitch Greg and Martin are at an exciting stage in the delivery of their ambitious new strategy for investment in grassroots facilities and coaching.
Now back to the day's events … I'm sure you are all as keen as I am to get out to your seats for the match, frankly because my nerves can't take any more. It is a great privilege to be able to attend the match today in person and I congratulate both teams for making it to Wembley – Arsenal returning to defend your title and Aston Villa for making me a very happy man!
Despite any allegiances of my own, I really do wish both teams the best of luck for the match. Hopefully we will have a classic Cup Final this afternoon and remind the footballing world of all that is great about the sport. And finally may the best team win.
Following his re-election to a fifth term in charge of FIFA on Friday, Sepp Blatter said he was "shocked" at the way U.S. officials targeted world soccer's governing body.
In an interview with Swiss TV, the 79-year-old claimed the U.S. investigation, as well as the timing of the arrests of seven high-ranking FIFA officials at a hotel in Zurich earlier this week, was an attempt to disrupt the organization's highly anticipated congress, at which he was re-elected Friday to lead FIFA for the next four years.
"No one is going to tell me that it was a simple coincidence, this American attack two days before the elections of FIFA. It doesn't smell good," Blatter told Switzerland's Radio Television Suisse.
Blatter also implied the case brought forward by the U.S. Justice Department had political motivations.
FIFA's newly elected president pointed out the U.S. lost the rights to host the 2022 World Cup to Qatar and noted the Americans were the "number one" sponsors of the man who ran against him at Friday's election, Jordan's Prince Ali bin Hussein.
On Friday, Blatter said he would "shoulder the blame" for the current crisis.
"I'm shouldering blame for the current storm," he said. "I will accept that responsibility. I want to fix FIFA."
A top IRS official on Friday said he expects more indictments to be handed down in the sprawling FIFA case.
Nine world soccer officials and five corporate executives have already been indicted, accused by the U.S. Department of Justice of engaging in unmitigated racketeering, conspiracy, and corruption.
Richard Weber, chief of the IRS criminal investigations unit, told the New York Times that he was "fairly confident" there will be another round of indictments.
When announcing the indictment on Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch all but left the door open to the same expectation, saying the investigation into widespread corruption was ongoing.
Even FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who addressed the scandal at the opening of the FIFA Congress before he won re-election, said he expected more charges in the future.
"I'm sure more bad news may follow," he told members.
U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati says he's "disappointed" in the FIFA election results.
U.S. Soccer released the following statement after the FIFA election Friday:
While we are disappointed in the result of the election, we will continue to push for meaningful change within FIFA. Our goal is for governance of FIFA that is responsible, accountable, transparent and focused solely on the best interests of the game. We congratulate President Blatter and it is our hope he will make reform his number one priority to ensure the integrity of the sport across the world.
Blatter thanks Prince Ali for a competitive election and suggests this term will be his last. He is 79 years old.
Prince Ali chose to withdraw from the race ahead of a second round. FIFA, which does not have term limits, remains under Blatter for a fifth term.
Prince Ali thanked those "brave enough" to support his candidacy.
FIFA announces the election will go to a second round. Prince Ali received 73 votes to Blatter's 133 votes. Three votes were invalid. A two-thirds majority (140) was needed in the first round; a simple majority decides the second round.
After about 90 minutes of voting, the 209 member ballots are in and are being counted by hand.
The head of the Palestinian Football Association announced he decided to drop the bid to suspend Israel from FIFA.
Jibril Rajoub said he decided to drop the suspension, "but it does not mean that I give up the resistance."
The Palestinian Football Association had previously accused Israel of hampering its activities and restricting players from moving between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Israel claimed the restrictions were a result of security concerns.
The presidents of the two football associations eventually shook hands on Friday at the FIFA Congress.
Sepp Blatter to FIFA Congress: "I am shouldering blame for the current storm. OK, OK. I will accept that responsibility. I want to fix FIFA."
Blatter assured the room: "We will change things in the future. Starting tomorrow."
"Corruption is a word being bandied around so much," Blatter said, but asserted that FIFA must also focus on ridding the game of racism and violence.
"You know me already," said the current president, who has served at the helm since 1998.
"I don't need to introduce myself to you. You know who you're dealing with. And i also know that I can count on you."
He pleaded, "I want to stay with you. It's about trust. I know it's about trust on your side. It is about respect on mine."
Blatter promised "a strong FIFA, a beautiful FIFA," but conceded that "in order to achieve that we'll have to work hard ... because no man can do it alone."
Addressing the FIFA Congress, Prince Ali bin Hussein, the only candidate running against Sepp Blatter, says, "This time, everything is at stake."
"We stand here today at a crossroads for football and it will take a committed leader to fix the mess we are in," Prince Ali continued.
"I give you pledge. I will not hide among your ranks when things are bad and step forward when they are good. I will take full responsibility. ... I give you my word that I will honor the game. I know that FIFA is not about one man, and I will not run it unilaterally."
Prince Ali addressed the 209 voting members: "I know that hand-in-hand we can deliver a new future for FIFA."
The Trinidad Express released a report confirming Jack Warner laundered money through the supermarket chain JTA Supermarket.
The owner and director of JTA, Carl Mack, told the Trinidad Express that "some foreign currency purchases" were made by Kenny Rampersad, the accountant in a number of soccer agencies including CONCACAF, Caribbean Football Union, and the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation.
Rampersad refused to comment to the Trinidad Express.
BuzzFeed News has reached out to Warner's lawyer for comment.
The U.K.'s Serious Fraud Office has confirmed it is "actively assessing" the FIFA corruption allegations.
The SFO investigates and prosecutes those who commit serious or complex fraud, bribery, and corruption. It issued the following statement to BuzzFeed News on Friday:
"The SFO continues actively to assess material in its possession and has made plain that it stands ready to assist ongoing international criminal investigations."
It said that its monitoring of the FIFA allegations had been "under review for some time," but that it had not made a decision to launch its own formal investigation.
European leaders are continuing to condemn soccer's governing body today. Earlier, British prime minister David Cameron called on FIFA president Sepp Blatter to resign over corruption claims, adding "the sooner that happens, the better". German chancellor Angela Merkel said FIFA "must root out corruption".
FIFA Congress given the all clear to resume meeting ahead of election after building was searched for a possible threat.
"An anonymous threat against the FIFA Congress was received, FIFA and the local authorities immediately evaluated the situation," FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke said at that the opening of the second part of the FIFA 65th Congress. He added that the building was searched during the lunch break and that the premises had been cleared.
There have been reports of a bomb threat at the FIFA Congress in Zurich.
However, the centre has apparently not been evacuated.
A female protestor waving a Palestine flag has been removed by security from the Fifa Congress.
Current FIFA president Sepp Blatter was sat on the podium at the time and called for security, Reuters reported.
One of the items on the agenda at the FIFA Congress this week, tabled by the Palestine FA, is the suspension of Israel, Reuters said.
Sepp Blatter appealed for "unity, team spirit and fair play" as he opened proceedings in Zurich on Friday morning.
"Today I appeal for a team spirit, unity, so we can advance together. It may not be easy but that is why we are here today," the 79-year-old said.
Blatter is the favourite to win the FIFA presidential election later today, securing a fifth term in office.
The FIFA presidential election will take place in Zurich today despite soccer’s governing body being hit by the worst scandal in its history.
Two hundred and nine football associations will vote on whether they want the current president, Sepp Blatter, to have a fifth term in charge or to let 39-year-old Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan take over.
CONCACAF has announced they have "dismissed" President and FIFA VP Jeffrey Webb and executive committee member Eduardo Li:
The Confederation of North, Central America and the Caribbean Football Association (CONCACAF) announced today that in accordance with the Confederation's Statutes, the Executive Committee provisionally dismissed Jeffrey Webb and Eduardo Li, and -- also in accordance with its Statutes -- named Senior Vice President Alfredo Hawit as CONCACAF President.
Charges against Webb and Li include money laundering and wire fraud. Each faces up to 20 years in prison with potential of forfeiture and fines.
Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, spoke "from experience" about the process FIFA will go through to become less corrupt.
He said that though the process will be long, it is the "only way" and encouraged FIFA to cooperate and "shed full light" on the "grave allegations."
After Sepp Blatter's speech, "volunteer flag-bearers" representing each of the 209 member associations filed off the stage to begin a lengthy and artistic presentation.
Among the performances were dancing, singing, and a celebration of Swiss culture that featured an alphorn performance.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter addressed the scandal at the opening of the FIFA Congress saying, "I’m sure more bad news may follow.”
Blatter said these are difficult and unprecedented times for the FIFA organization and stressed the importance of everyone involved being held accountable adding that corruption has no place in soccer.
He said the world has lost FIFA's trust and that the organization must begin the long road to rebuilding society's confidence and not "allow the reputation of football and FIFA to be dragged through the mud any longer."
Read his full remarks:
These are unprecedented and difficult times for FIFA. The events of yesterday have cast a long shadow over football and over this congress.
Actions of individuals bring shame and humiliation on football and demand action and change from us all. We cannot allow the reputation of football and FIFA to be dragged through the mud any longer. It has to stop here and now. I know many people hold ultimately responsible for the actions of the global football community, whether it's a decision for the hosting of the world cup or a corruption scandal. We, or I, cannot monitor everyone all of the time. If people want to do wrong, they will also try to hide it. But it must fall to me to be responsible of wellbeing of organization and find ways to fix things.
I will not allow the actions of a few to destroy the hard work and the integrity of the vase majority of those who work so hard for football. I must stress those who are corrupt in football are in a thin minority like in society, but like in society they must be [caught] and held responsible for their actions. Football cannot be the exception of the rule. That is our responsibility at FIFA, and will cooperate with all authorities to make sure everyone involved in wrong doing from top to bottom is discovered and punished.
There can be no place for corruption of any kind. The next few months will not be easy for FIFA, I'm sure bad news may follow. But it is necessary to begin to restore trust in our organization. Let this be the turning point. More needs to be done to be sure everyone in football behaves responsibly and ethically, even outside the field of play where there is no referee, no boundaries. no time limits.
The world deserves so much more and we must respond. Tomorrow, the congress, we have the opportunity to begin on what will be a long and difficult road to rebuilding trust. We have lost their trust, at least part of it and we must now earn it back. We must earn it back through the decisions we make, through the expectations we place on each other and through the way we behave individually.
The president of European soccer's governing body, Michel Platini, told reporters on Thursday "enough is enough" when asked about Blatter continuing at the helm of FIFA.
The Frenchman, speaking at a news conference in Zurich, Switzerland, on Thursday, said he spoke to Blatter "like a friend," urging his FIFA counterpart to resign.
Platini's appeals went unheeded, however, as Blatter refuses to quit the post he has held for the past 17 years.
Having failed to convince Blatter to step down, Platini has moved to publicly appeal to the world's football federations to vote against Blatter on Friday's presidential elections, at which Prince Ali bin al-Hussein from Jordan stands as the only other runner.
The prince, although a favorite among FIFA European officials, is unlikely to beat Blatter to the top job.
The beleaguered FIFA president, although marred by corruption scandals, has staunch supporters in both Asia and Africa — enough to beat the opposition posed by his European detractors.
In a statement sent to BuzzFeed News, FIFA said it banned Aaron Davidson from any soccer-related activities.
Davidson is the owner of professional soccer team Carolina RailHawks, who play in the second tier of the American Soccer Pyramid.
Davidson is also the president of Traffic Sports U.S.A — a sports marketing company.
Along with 13 other FIFA officials and businessmen, Davidson is accused by the U.S. Department of Justice of a number of criminal activities including fraud, bribery and money laundering.
DOJ officials reportedly arrested Davidson on Tuesday in Miami, Florida.
Below is FIFA's statement in its entirety:
Following yesterday's decisions and further clarification, and on the basis of investigations carried out by the investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee and the latest facts presented by the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York, the chairman of the adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee, Hans-Joachim Eckert, today provisionally banned the official Aaron Davidson from carrying out any football-related activities at national and international level. The decision was taken at the request of the chairman of the investigatory chamber, Dr Cornel Borbély, based on art. 83 par.1 of the FIFA Code of Ethics.
As a major corruption scandal engulfs world soccer's governing body, FIFA president Sepp Blatter held an emergency meeting on Thursday in Switzerland, the BBC reported.
The organization is due to hold presidential elections on Friday, but in light of the charges brought forward by U.S. prosecutors on Wednesday, Blatter is now under immense pressure to both call off the presidential vote and to resign from the post he has held for the past 17 years.
Blatter, who hasn't had any charges brought against him, is a clear favourite to win Friday's election. If he does, it will be his fifth consecutive term in charge of FIFA.
A day after U.S. prosecutors brought forward corruption charges against a number of high-ranking FIFA officials, U.K. prime minister David Cameron joined those demanding Blatter's resignation.
On Thursday, FIFA president Sepp Blatter pulled out from a conference he was supposed to address, amid fears the world’s media would take the opportunity to question him about the investigation being conducted by U.S. prosecutors.
In another sign of the political ramifications of the latest corruption scandal to hit world soccer's governing body, U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told Sky News that Friday's vote to elect a new FIFA president should be postponed and that the organization "needs to clean up his act."
That sentiment is not shared by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who on Thursday accused Washington of meddling in FIFA’s affairs and claimed U.S. officials are trying to take away Russia’s 2018 World Cup.
At a news conference on Wednesday in Zurich, hours after the investigations by Swiss and U.S. authorities were made public, FIFA spokesman Walter de Gregorio assured the world's media that Friday's presidential vote would go ahead as planned.
FIFA's sister organization, UEFA, disagrees, the Associated Press reported. European soccer's governing body thinks Friday's vote should be postponed, following the turmoil sparked by the criminal investigations.
UEFA, headed by French soccer legend Michel Platini, supports Blatter's presidential opponent, FIFA's vice president Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan.
Correction: United States authorities have not named FIFA President Sepp Blatter in their investigation. An earlier version of this post incorrectly said he was under investigation.