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FIFA claim 2018 and 2022 World Cups not under threat

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FIFA Director of Communications Walter De Gregorio answers questions following the arrest of several FIFA officials on corruption charges.

FIFA have said that the World Cups in 2018 and 2022 will take place as scheduled and confirmed that current president Sepp Blatter was not under investigation after a series of early-morning arrests in Switerland.

FIFA have also confirmed that their presedential election will go ahead as planned on Friday and they will cooperate fully with the Swiss authorities in their on-going corruption investigation, claiming it had been a 'good day' for the world governing body.

In a tumultuous morning in Zurich, Swiss police arrested officials and executives on corruption charges and, in a separate move, announced a criminal investigation into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.

In addition to the Swiss criminal probe, at least six football officials and a number of sports media and promotions executives are facing extradition to the United States to face corruption charges involving more than $100m in bribes and kick-backs.

Russia and Qatar will be played, I don't want to go into more speculation.
FIFA spokesman Walter de Gregorio

The spokesman for the world governing body, Walter De Gregorio, underlined the fact that it was FIFA who initiated the World Cup criminal investigation in November last year, following the controversial report produced by former US attorney Michael Garcia.

De Gregorio said: "Let me say that the general secretary (Jerome Valcke) and the president are not involved. Now you certainly have questions, when it comes to the answers there is hardly anything more we can say with regards to the procedures than what has been written and said by the attorney's office an hour ago.

"In spite of what has been said, we are very happy right now. It is once again FIFA suffering under the circumstances. There was never such an idea to postpone the congress or the election. One thing has nothing to do with the other. The election will take place as planned.

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"For us it's a hard time to be in front of you talking about something that is not nice but for FIFA this is good. We are on the right track and this is the way to go. We started four years ago and nothing is going to stop us.

"We speculate maybe Russia loses it - will they, won't they? Russia and Qatar will be played, I don't want to go into more speculation.

"It's not good for image, it's not good for reputation, but it's good for cleaning up the game. We wouldn't have initiated proceedings on the 18th November if we didn't think it would be good for FIFA.

"The damaged party are all of us. Of course Sepp Blatter is the president of FIFA but how can you say he has to step down. If the 209 members decide to vote for his re-election, how can we argue?"

Jim Boyce, Britain's outgoing FIFA vice-president, said: "This is another sad day for FIFA. I hope the investigations that FIFA have themselves initiated will lead to those individuals - if found guilty of dishonesty and corruption - dealt with in the strongest possible manner by the law authorities."

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