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FAI boss John Delaney describes FIFA corruption arrests as 'something out of a mafia movie'


'The FAI had a 'credibility issue' when John Delaney took over in 2004, according to him, but few could argue that it hasn't returned.' Photo: David Conachy

'The FAI had a 'credibility issue' when John Delaney took over in 2004, according to him, but few could argue that it hasn't returned.' Photo: David Conachy

'The FAI had a 'credibility issue' when John Delaney took over in 2004, according to him, but few could argue that it hasn't returned.' Photo: David Conachy

FAI chief executive John Delaney has said that he is 'shocked' and 'saddened' by the news after Swiss authorities made early-morning arrests of seven football officials and opened separate criminal proceedings over the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Officers carried out a dawn raid on the five star Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich and arrested a number of officials on corruption charges, including FIFA vice-president Jeffrey Webb from the Cayman Islands, according to sources close to the world governing body.

It is understood that FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who is standing for re-election on Friday, is not among those arrested.

In a separate move, officers raided FIFA's headquarters in Zurich, seized electronic data and opened criminal proceedings "against persons unknown on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and of money laundering in connection with the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 football World Cups," said a statement from the Swiss attorney general.

John Delaney claimed that he was not surprised by the shocking developments in Zurich this morning.

"It seems like something out of a mafia movie," he told Today with Sean O'Rourke on RTE Radio One.

"Nothing would surprise me with FIFA, that’s the sad thing about FIFA. UEFA is a tremendous organisation to work.

"When you wake up this morning and hear those events, it’s shocking and very saddening.

"The awards of World Cups are always covert and then there are independent reports that we don’t get to see. We’re told we’d get redacted versions and we don’t get those.

"There is always controversy around FIFA and it’s governance and the one person who has always been at the head of that is Sepp Blatter and he has to take some responsibility for that and that’s why I said yesterday that we wouldn’t be voting for him."

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The FIFA presidency election will go ahead as planned on Friday, the governing body's communications director Walter De Gregorio has said.

John Delaney believes that Blatter may still win the vote despite this morning's revelations.

“Cultural change has to come from the top and Sepp Blatter has presided over this for a number of years," he added

“He’ll win the election if it takes place on Friday but we won’t be voting for him.

“We’ve a meeting of the UEFA federation tomorrow, the 53-54 associations in Europe, we’ll meet to determine our strategy.

“Hopefully people will take the view that it is time for change.

“There are 208 or 209 votes, UEFA have 53 for Prince Ali to win he would need to gather 105 votes. Up until this morning, there wasn’t really a chance (of Blatter being beaten).

“The events of this morning may change that but I’ll only know that when I get to Zurich later today and attend the UEFA meeting in the morning.

“There could be radical things done like saying we won’t participate in FIFA tournaments. That would be radical and there have been mutterings like that and we’ll see what tomorrow morning brings.

"Some of the bigger countries feel that FIFA isn't being run correctly."

Delaney believes that Blatter is not 'living in the real world'.

"He lives in a cocoon, he lives in the voting chambers and not in the real world. His view is that he's the President of FIFA and he's voted in by the members and all these allegations are nothing to do with him, they're about other people.

"If he really cares for the game, he'll step down as President."

Speaking about the FIFA arrests made today, acting US attorney Kelly T Currie said: "After decades of what the indictment alleges to be brazen corruption, organised international soccer needs a new start. Let me be clear: this indictment is not the final chapter in our investigation."

US attorney general Loretta Lynch said: "The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States. It spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks."

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