FIFA president defends organization’s integrity after arrests

Acting FIFA president Issa Hayatou defended the integrity of the organization as well as his own at a press conference Thursday in Zurich.

Hayatou was speaking after Swiss police arrested a second wave of FIFA officials, including the presidents of COMNEBOL and CONCACAF – the South American and North American/Central American/Caribbean federations. The arrests took place at the Baur au Lac hotel, the same location as the first set of arrests in May.

“FIFA is not corrupt. We have individuals that have shown negative behaviour. Do not generalize the situation,” said Hayatou, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) president. “There are lots of people in FIFA for more than 20 or 30 years that have not been accused of anything.”

This was Hayatou’s first high-profile appearance since replacing Sepp Blatter in September. Blatter and European confederation president Michel Platini were suspended pending investigation into corruption charges, and the investigation team has recommended lifetime bans.

The 69-year-old, who appeared to doze off during the press conference, became CAF’s president in 1987. The International Olympic Committee reprimanded him in 2011 for taking $16,000 from ISL – a media group that used bribes to obtain the television rights to major sporting events.

“Everyone has seen that $16,000 came into the coffers of CAF. The IOC blamed me for that but I didn’t take a cent,” he said. “This was a support payment for the 40th year anniversary of CAF. This is what I accepted. They saw that in the records this money had been properly registered and still they sanctioned me.”

Swiss police arrested FIFA vice presidents Alfredo Hawit of Honduras and Juan Ángel Napout of Paraguay at the hotel before the meeting began. Hawit has been serving as CONCACAF president since Jeffrey Webb’s arrest in May, while Napout is the current COMNEBOL president. Other arrests of South American and Central American officials were expected.

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