US Soccer Voting for Sepp Blatter's Rival in Upcoming FIFA Election Amid Arrests

PHOTO: FIFA President Sepp Blatter speaks at the opening ceremony of the FIFA congress in Zuerich, Switzerland, May 28, 2015.PlayWalter Bieri/AP Photo
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The U.S. Soccer Federation will vote for the rival of incumbent FIFA president Sepp Blatter in Friday's election amid more than a dozen arrests of high-ranking officials accused of racketeering and corruption.

U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati today said the federation will vote for Jordanian Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, the lone candidate running against Blatter, who is expected to win his fifth term as president of world soccer's governing body. He was not among those arrested or indicted Wednesday.

“For me, and for U.S. soccer, better governance and more integrity at Concacaf and FIFA are far more important than hosting any international soccer tournament,” Gulati told The New York Times.

In a series of busts on Wednesday, authorities arrested nine current or former FIFA figures and five involved in sports marketing over allegations of racketeering and corruption involving more than $150 million in bribes and kickbacks spanning two decades, law enforcement officials said.

Blatter pledged earlier today that FIFA will cooperate with the investigations and vowed to work to restore trust in the organization.

The investigation grew out of allegations of payoffs to officials who decided where to hold the next two instances of the World Cup, the biggest international event in sports. The process landed the games in Russia for 2018 and Qatar in 2022, according to three senior U.S. law enforcement officials. The U.S. was runner-up to Qatar’s win.

The alleged wrongdoing reaches back as far as 1991, and in 2004 corruption purportedly played a role in the process of deciding who would host the 2010 World Cup, an honor that eventually fell to South Africa, according to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. An indictment unsealed Wednesday laid out other alleged bribery schemes, including some involving high-dollar deals for marketing and broadcasting rights related to various tournaments.

FIFA's 209-member federations will vote by secret ballot Friday to elect the governing body's next president.

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