Zurich - FIFA president Sepp Blatter was
set to face the media on Friday, as the scandals that surround him widen at a
seemingly relentless pace.
Blatter's press conference following FIFA's
executive committee meeting was always going to be closely watched, with both
the US and Swiss justice departments carrying out major investigations into
corruption at world football.
But events over the last two weeks have
raised the stakes.
On Thursday, Switzerland's Attorney General
Michael Lauber's office said FIFA had agreed to hand over the emails of
suspended secretary general Jerome Valcke, evidence Lauber had demanded as part
of an investigation into World Cup bidding.
That announcement came hours after Lauber's
office said FIFA had indicated it would only hand over the emails if certain
conditions were met.
Those conditions were not disclosed and
there was no comment as to what ultimately led FIFA to unseal the emails.
FIFA said only that it "fully
supports" the Swiss investigation and had cooperated with the attorney
general since his inquiry was launched in May.
A week before FIFA agreed to the email
release, football's governing body put the Frenchman on indefinite leave over
accusations he agreed to let World Cup tickets be sold at vastly inflated
Valcke, who had been Blatter's right-hand
man, fiercely denies the allegations.
Aside from a possible black market ticket
scheme, Valcke had already been implicated in an alleged $10 million bribe
payment reportedly made by South Africa in connection with its hosting of the
2010 World Cup.
The Swiss investigation is focused on
whether bribes were paid during bidding for 2018 and 2022 tournaments - awarded
to Russia and Qatar, respectively.
If clear evidence of misconduct emerges,
both countries could be stripped of their hosting rights, FIFA officials have
Three days before Valcke was suspended,
Lauber and his US counterpart Loretta Lynch made clear that their
investigations were nowhere near complete.
Lauber said assets, including flats in the
Swiss Alps, had been seized in the probe which he described as "not yet
Valcke's emails will add to the troves of
electronic data previously confiscated by Swiss investigators.
Lauber has not named any individuals who
could face criminal charges, and there was no indication that Valcke is the
main target in the case.
Speaking alongside Lauber in Zurich, FIFA's
home, Lynch said her case had also expanded since May, when the US indicted 14
people nine FIFA officials and five
sports marketing executives - over bribery worth more than $150 million dating
back to 1991.
Lynch told reporters that more individuals
and entities were likely to be charged.
Neither attorney general has commented on
whether charges were imminent against the FIFA president, who insists he was
unaware of any graft that took place under his watch.
Seven of the people indicted by Lynch were
arrested in a dawn raid in Zurich in May.
One, ex-FIFA vice president Jeffrey Webb of
the Cayman Islands, agreed to extradition and was sent the US.
The other six challenged a transfer to
American jurisdiction, but one by one they appear to be losing those fights.
Last week, the Swiss justice ministry
approved the extradition of Rafael Esquivel of Venezuela and Uruguay's Eugenio
Figueredo, both former top officials within world football.
Decision on the extradition requests for
the remaining four suspects are expected in the coming days.
Blatter's press conference at 14:00 may
also prove to be one of his last, as the embattled FIFA president has agreed to
step down following a special election in February.