THE LATEST: Police raid businesses named in FIFA indictment

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Posted: May 29, 2015 6:12 PM
THE LATEST: Police raid businesses named in FIFA indictment

ZURICH (AP) — The latest on FIFA developments:

12:04 a.m. (2204 GMT; 6:04 p.m. EDT)

Argentine federal police and Interpol agents have raided the businesses run by three Argentines who are fugitives after being charged in the FIFA scandal.

Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio ordered the raids on the sports marketing firm Tournaments and Competitions SA and on the sports media business Full Play Group SA.

Authorities are seeking Alejandro Burzaco, president of Tournaments and Competitions, and Mariano and Hugo Jinkis, owners of Full Play.

They were named Wednesday in a U.S. indictment alleging they bribed soccer officials for rights to international tournaments. Argentine prosecutors later charged the three men with tax fraud, racketeering and money laundering.

The United States has requested their extradition.

A lawyer for the Jinkis, Jorge Anzorreguy, says both men are still in Argentina. Burzaco's whereabouts are unknown.

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11:42 p.m. (2142 GMT; 5:42 p.m. EDT)

Former FIFA presidential candidate Luis Figo slammed Sepp Blatter's leadership again after his re-election on Friday and said the Swiss official "can't remain in charge of world football."

Figo dropped out of the race this month, denouncing FIFA as a dictatorship. After this week's arrests of senior FIFA officials, Figo said "football is not guilty but is the governing body's leaders, who should regulate it, that have no integrity or honesty."

The former Portugal great says "Mr. Blatter knew and was aware of the acts of corruption, influence and racketeering or, if he did not know - as he says - it's because he has no skills to lead FIFA. There is no other way to analyze the problem."

Figo says "today was another dark day in Zurich. FIFA has lost, but above everything, football has lost and everyone who truly cares about it has lost too."

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9:58 p.m. (1958 GMT; 3:58 EDT)

A sports marketing executive from Florida has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and other charges stemming from the FIFA corruption scandal.

Aaron Davidson entered the plea through his lawyer on Friday in federal court in Brooklyn. He's the first defendant to be arraigned in a U.S. court since the case was announced earlier this week.

Davidson was among 14 people named in racketeering indictment accusing soccer officials of accepting more than $150 million in bribes. Prosecutors say they took the cash in exchange for rigging marketing contracts and the selection of the host country for the 2010 World Cup.

Davidson is president of a Miami-based Traffic Sports USA Inc.

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8:49 p.m. (1849 GMT; 2:49 p.m. EDT)

Several South American nations joined European countries in voting for Jordan's Prince Ali in the FIFA election against Sepp Blatter.

Rodolfo D'Onofrio, vice president of the Argentine Football Association, told Argentine media that CONMEBOL members met Friday morning and decided to vote for Prince Ali.

He said he doesn't know if all members went through with it, but that Argentina voted for the challenger. Blatter won a fifth term after Prince Ali conceded before a second round of voting.

"In Argentina we clearly thought that we needed a change and we voted for a change. I think CONMEBOL too, that was the previous agreements. I don't know what happened in the booth."

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8:20 p.m. (1820 GMT; 2:20 p.m. EDT)

Michel Platini, the president of the European soccer body UEFA, has issued a defiant statement after Sepp Blatter beat Europe's preferred candidate to capture a fifth term at the helm of FIFA.

Platini says "I am proud that UEFA has defended and supported a movement for change at FIFA. Change which in my opinion is crucial if this organization is to regain its credibility."

Most European delegates had backed Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan to be FIFA's next president. Prince Ali withdrew from the race Friday after forcing the balloting in Zurich to go to a second round. Blatter became the winner after capturing 133 of the 206 valid votes cast.

Platini said "I congratulate my friend Prince Ali for his admirable campaign" and thanked all the national soccer associations who supported the 39-year-old challenger.

Platini on Thursday had urged Blatter, 79, to resign because of the wide corruption allegations hitting the world soccer body this week.

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8 p.m. (1800 GMT; 2 p.m. EDT)

Victorious FIFA President Sepp Blatter has warned European soccer that it faces losing influence on his executive committee.

After defeating challenger Prince Al bin al-Hussein on Friday, Blatter said FIFA "must have a better representation of the confederations and the number of members" on its executive panel. The prince had been backed by most members of UEFA, the European soccer body.

UEFA has eight of the 25 voting seats on FIFA's executive committee, a legacy of its position as the most influential region in world soccer. It has also three of FIFA's eight vice presidencies.

UEFA President Michel Platini sat still and did not applaud after Blatter's acceptance speech on Friday. Blatter had rejected Platini's demand to resign when the former allies had a private meeting on Thursday.

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7:50 p.m. (1750 GMT; 1:50 p.m. EDT)

Jordan is praising the performance of its soccer chief, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, who forced voting in FIFA's presidential election to go to a second round before withdrawing.

"Prince Ali ran a strong campaign and the manner in which it was conducted has done Jordan proud," said HRH Prince Feisal al-Hussein, his older brother.

Prince Ali won 73 votes to incumbent Sepp Blatter's 133 votes, but neither won the 140 needed Friday to capture the first round of voting in Zurich. The prince then withdrew before the second round, handing the victory to Blatter and allowing weary FIFA delegates to get to dinner.

The prince gave a stirring speech before the voting began, saying FIFA in the future must create "a culture that empowers transparency, inclusivity and accountability."

"I give you my word I will honor the game," he declared.

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7:30 p.m. (1730 GMT; 1:30 p.m. EDT)

Sepp Blatter has won a 5th term as FIFA president after his lone challenger forced the balloting to go a second round and then graciously pulled out.

Speaking to FIFA delegates in Zurich on Friday, the 79-year-old Blatter promised "we will bring back FIFA. We will do it!"

There were weak claps and even some boos in Zurich's Hallenstadion when Blatter was announced as winner. FIFA has been rocked by serious corruption allegations this week by U.S. and Swiss judicial officials, which they said go back decades. Blatter has led FIFA for 17 years.

Blatter admitted "I am not perfect, no one is perfect" but promised to hand over FIFA in better shape to a successor four years from now.

"Together we go! Let's go FIFA!" he exhorted.

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7:15 p.m. (1715 GMT; 1:15 p.m. EDT)

Prince Ali bin al-Hussein has withdrawn from FIFA's presidential race, leaving incumbent Sepp Blatter to capture a fifth term in office.

The prince from Jordan pulled out only minutes after Blatter captured 133 of the 206 valid votes cast in a secret paper ballot in the first round of voting. Ali had won 73.

Since neither man had won 140 votes, the voting had been primed to go into a second round.

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6:57 p.m. (1657 GMT; 12:57 p.m. EDT)

There will be a second round of voting in FIFA's presidential race.

At the FIFA congress in Zurich on Friday, President Sepp Blatter captured 133 of the 206 valid votes cast in a secret paper ballot. His lone challenger, 39-year-old Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, won 73 votes.

Since neither captured two-thirds of the vote, there will be a second round of voting Friday in which the winning candidate must get a simple majority of the votes.

The voting result is considered a rebuke to Blatter, who has led FIFA for 17 years. The world soccer body has faced a storm of criticism this week after U.S. officials charged 14 people linked to FIFA with corruption.

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6:30 p.m. (1630 GMT; 12:30 p.m. EDT)

Voting has finished in the first round of balloting to choose FIFA's next president.

Delegates from the world soccer body's 209 members can give President Sepp Blatter a fifth, four-year term in office or pick his 39-year-old challenger, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan.

A second round of voting will take place if neither gets two-thirds of the votes cast Friday.

The voting comes two days after U.S. officials charged 14 people, including nine FIFA officials, with participating in a vast, decades-long bribery scheme tied to the awarding of soccer tournaments. Swiss officials have also announced a criminal investigation into how FIFA gave the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

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6 p.m. (1600 GMT; 12 noon EDT)

Sepp Blatter has told FIFA delegates "I don't need to introduce myself to you" just minutes before they began to vote in Zurich to pick the next FIFA president.

He's right about that. The 79-year-old Swiss has led the world soccer body for 17 years and is seeking another four years in office. His challenger Friday is 39-year-old Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, Jordan's soccer chief.

The election comes only two days after U.S. officials charged 14 people — including nine senior FIFA officials — with corrupting world soccer for decades in a $150 million scheme to line their pockets. Blatter was not among those charged but has promised to clean up "the storm."

He is strongly favored to win. In 2011, when Blatter was the only candidate, he got 186 of the 203 valid votes cast.

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5:05 p.m. (1505 GMT; 11:05 a.m. EDT)

Voting has begun to choose FIFA's next president.

Delegates from the world soccer body's 209 members were handing over secret paper ballots in alphabetical order at the FIFA congress Friday in Zurich. Afghanistan kicked off the voting.

They can give the incumbent, 79-year-old Sepp Blatter, a fifth, four-year term in office or pick his 39-year-old challenger, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan.

A second round of voting will take place immediately if neither gets two-thirds of the votes cast.

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5:00 p.m. (1500 GMT; 11 a.m. EDT)

Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan has told FIFA delegates in Zurich that "it will take a committed leader to fix this mess we are in."

He spoke Friday to the congress before voting began to choose FIFA's next president.

The 39-year-old prince is running against incumbent Sepp Blatter, who is seeking a fifth, four-year term at the helm of the world's soccer body, which has been hit by U.S. corruption allegations this week.

Prince Ali said "I know FIFA is not just about one man." He promised to "fight racism and discrimination in all their forms and uphold human rights" as he turned FIFA into a more democratic, transparent and open organization.

He says FIFA "is hungering for the world's respect."

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4:10 p.m. (1410 GMT; 10:10 a.m. EDT)

It took several awkward minutes, but finally there was a handshake between the Israeli and Palestinian soccer chiefs at FIFA's congress in Zurich.

Applause broke out after the handshake Friday between Jibril Rajoub and Ofer Eini, the respective soccer association presidents of the Palestinians and Israel.

Eini made the offer after Rajoub withdrew a motion to ask FIFA to suspend Israel from world soccer and both sides pledged to work together. But Eini had to wait for several minutes while FIFA debated voting procedure, before walking over to Rajoub's seat to get the handshake done.

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3:45 p.m. (1345 GMT; 9:45 a.m. EDT)

The Palestinian soccer federation has withdrawn its motion asking FIFA's congress to suspend the Israeli soccer association from FIFA and world soccer.

Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian soccer body, said he decided upon that after many of FIFA's 209 members urged unity over discord.

The Palestinians say Israel restricts the movement of players in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel has cited security concerns, especially regarding movement in and out of Gaza, which is ruled by the Islamic militant group Hamas.

Israel said it was delighted at the move and would work together with the Palestinians in the best interests of world soccer.

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2:55 p.m. (1255 GMT; 8:55 a.m. EDT)

Ahead of a FIFA debate, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has strongly defended his nation.

On FIFA's agenda Friday in Zurich is a proposal by the Palestinian soccer federation to suspend the Israeli soccer federation from FIFA and world soccer. FIFA President Sepp Blatter has said he does not support the request.

Netanyahu says on his Facebook page that the dispute "stems from their very objection to our existence."

The Israeli leader says "if FIFA harms Israel, it will be harming itself. Other countries, too, will use FIFA to settle scores with their adversaries, and instead of the spirit of international sport that is supposed to transcend politics, we will get the destruction of soccer."

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2:30 p.m. (1230 GMT; 8:30 a.m. EDT)

British Prime Minister David Cameron says FIFA president Sepp Blatter must resign and "the sooner that happens the better."

Asked about the FIFA scandals at a joint press conference in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Cameron said it was "unthinkable" that Blatter was the right person to take the world soccer body forward after this week's corruption accusations.

Cameron added: "Frankly, what we have seen is the ugly side of the beautiful game."

Merkel called for FIFA to make a clean break with corruption but stopped short of saying that Blatter should resign.

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2:10 p.m. (1210 GMT; 8:10 a.m. EDT)

Qatar is defending its integrity in its first statement since Swiss police on Wednesday opened a criminal investigation into FIFA's awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 event to Qatar.

Qatar's World Cup committee says "our aim through hosting the FIFA World Cup is to utilize the positive power of sport to unify people" and to show the region's passion for soccer.

The statement said Qatar has "fully complied with every investigation that has been initiated concerning the 2018/2022 bidding process and will continue to do so." It added "we conducted our bid with integrity."

Qatar, which is building a huge amount of infrastructure to host the World Cup, has been strongly criticized by worker's groups for its poor treatment of foreign workers.

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1:45 p.m. (1145 GMT; 7:45 a.m. EDT)

Swiss police say a bomb threat has been made against the venue where the FIFA congress is being held.

An AP reporter at the scene says the Hallenstadion's concert hall auditorium was cleared but the building itself was not evacuated.

The meeting then resumed after lunch.

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1:25 p.m. (1125GMT; 7:25 a.m. EDT)

Britain's Serious Fraud Office says it is assessing "material in its possession" relating to allegations of FIFA corruption.

It said Friday it stands ready to "assist ongoing international criminal investigations" related to FIFA corruption. On Wednesday, U.S. officials indicted 14 people in a FIFA corruption probe that arrested seven FIFA officials in Zurich.

The Serious Fraud Office would not comment on the material it is holding. Several British-based international banks, however, are mentioned in the U.S. indictment of FIFA officials.

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12:30 p.m. (1030 GMT; 6:30 a.m. EDT)

FIFA President Sepp Blatter is calling for unity among FIFA's 209 members as the world soccer body holds its annual Congress in Zurich and prepares to elect a leader for the next four years.

Blatter on Friday acknowledged a tumultuous week — one in which 14 FIFA officials were indicted for corruption by U.S. authorities and seven of them arrested in Zurich. In addition, Swiss authorities have opened a criminal investigation into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.

Blatter says these events "have unleashed a true storm." Still he says "I am appealing for team spirit and unity so we can move forward together."

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11:50 a.m. (0950 GMT; 5:50 a.m. EDT)

A small group of protesters are demonstrating in Zurich outside the FIFA Congress hall, chastising FIFA for not doing more to prevent the abuse of migrant workers as Qatar builds infrastructure to host the 2022 World Cup.

Signs reading "fans against apartheid" were put up by fans of Premier League champion Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham, among others.

Sharan Burrow, the general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, says FIFA President Sepp Blatter should resign amid all the corruption charges and Swiss authorities should place FIFA under judicial supervision.

But she also said in a statement this week that despite the FIFA corruption charges "the world also mustn't forget that migrant workers in Qatar are still being worked to death ... FIFA has failed to make labor rights a condition of Qatar hosting the World Cup and impoverished workers there are paying the price."

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10:30 a.m. (0830 GMT; 4:30 a.m. EDT)

Germany's Justice Minister has been quoted as saying that FIFA's decision to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in Russia and Qatar can't stand if it turns out that votes were bought.

Swiss authorities announced this week that they have opened a criminal probe into alleged wrongdoing by soccer officials during the 2010 vote on who should host those two World Cups.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas told the German daily Bild "the awarding of a World Cup shouldn't depend on who pays the highest bribes."

Maas also said FIFA President Sepp Blatter is the wrong man to investigate alleged graft inside his own organization, saying that FIFA needs "a fresh start."

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09:56 a.m. (0756 GMT; 3:56 a.m. EDT)

A pro-Palestinian activist briefly disrupted the FIFA congress after President Sepp Blatter's opening address.

An activist held up a red card and shouted "Red card to racism!" to draw attention to a campaign that aims to stop Palestinian players from being detained by Israeli security forces. Blatter called for security to remove the demonstrator.

Item 15 on the FIFA agenda is a proposal by the Palestinian soccer federation to suspend the Israeli soccer federation from FIFA and world soccer. Blatter has said he does not support the request. Israel says the Palestinians are trying to politicize soccer.

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09:10 a.m. (0710 GMT; 3.10 a.m. EDT)

FIFA President Sepp Blatter seemed to be ahead in a small straw poll of soccer officials arriving for the FIFA congress.

Most delegates seemed to be loyal to Blatter, the FIFA president of 17 years, despite the latest slew of corruption allegations rocking the sport. Delegates from Curacao, Belize and Malawi said they were supporting Blatter.

Blatter's opponent, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, has promised a fresh start for FIFA and can expect strong support from Europe. Still, he must pick up votes from the Caribbean and Africa to post a serious challenge.

Prince Ali's supporters hoped to gain momentum in the fallout from the U.S. and Swiss federal probes of soccer corruption which were unleashed in Zurich on Wednesday.