Sepp Blatter has confirmed what many had expected when he revealed that he would not attend this weekend’s Women’s World Cup Final in Canada.
Citing “personal reasons”, Blatter’s absence has raised eyebrows and inevitably, given recent events, been linked to the FBI criminal investigation into football’s world governing body.
Blatter, who is stepping down as Fifa president in the wake of dual US and Swiss investigations into Fifa’s conduct, has not been charged with any wrongdoing. Nevertheless, both he and Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke, will miss Sunday’s final “due to their current commitments in Zurich,” Fifa said in a statement.
Fifa’s Senior Vice President Issa Hayatou is expected to hand over the trophy to the winners.
Fifa has not elaborated as to why the “other commitments” are keeping Blatter and Valcke at home. But, with American law enforcement authorities having admitted that the 79-year-old is part of a widening investigation, one can understand why the Swiss national would choose to remain in Zurich, where he enjoys a degree of legal protcection.
It will be the first time in his 17 years in charge that Blatter has failed to attend the final of either the men’s or women’s World Cup.
“He’s not going to go to the finals in Canada,” his US-based lawyer, Richard Cullen, was quoted as saying. “He has informed the organisers of that and cited personal reasons.”
Blatter will also miss the traditional high-profile women’s football seminar which runs from July 3 to 5 and which he had been scheduled to address.
Again, due to those “other commitments”.