President of Fifa, Sepp Blatter, will not attend Sunday’s final of the women’s World Cup in Canada for personal reasons, his U.S.-based lawyer confirmed on Tuesday.
World football’s governing body has been embroiled in corruption, racketeering and conspiracy investigation by authorities in the U.S. and Blatter’s native Switzerland.
Though the 79-year-old has not been indicted by U.S. prosecutors in an indictment which began on 27 May, but international criminal cases experts believe the Fifa chief could be stretching his luck by embarking on the journey to Vancouver- especially knowing he has not been completely ruled out of possible debriefing.
It has been a tradition through the 17 years Blatter has been head of Fifa to attend most of the major tournaments’ showdowns. This will however be the first time he has not presented trophy to the winners of the women’s showpiece since 1998.
“He’s not going to go to the finals in Canada,” said the lawyer, Richard Cullen. “He has informed the organisers of that and cited personal reasons.”
Fifa said in a statement that Secretary General Jerome Valcke would also not grace the World Cup curtains.
“Due to their current commitments in Zurich, the Fifa President and the Fifa Secretary General will remain at the Fifa Headquarters,” the statement said.
Instead, Cullen disclosed that Fifa Senior Vice President Issa Hayatou of Cameroon would conduct the trophy ceremony after the final. U.S. prosecutors have not indicted the President of the Confederation of African Football (Caf).
Blatter announced on 2 June his departure from world football’s top job after an election at a special congress likely to take place in December or early next year.
Meanwhile, Olympic champions USA Women defeated European champions Germany 2-0 on Tuesday to book their place in the final. England Women will look to upstage reigning world champions Japan on Wednesday.