THE LATEST: UEFA chief: FIFA's Blatter nixed call to resign

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FIFA President Sepp Blatter Defies Calls To Resign

ZURICH (AP) -- The Latest on FIFA developments:

10:45 p.m. (2045 GMT, 4:45 p.m. EDT)

The head of the Brazilian soccer confederation, FIFA executive committee member Marco Polo Del Nero, has left Zurich on the eve of the governing body's presidential election to return home.

FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer confirmed that Del Nero had left Switzerland on Thursday to fly home to Brazil. As an executive committee member, he was set to attend Friday's FIFA Congress and oversee Brazil's vote in the election between incumbent Sepp Blatter and challenger Prince Ali of Jordan.

Fischer did not provide a reason for Del Nero's departure.

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10:31 p.m. (2031 GMT, 4:31 p.m. EDT)

The FIFA corruption scandal is having wide-ranging implications in soccer-loving Brazil.

The country's justice minister, Jose Eduardo Cardozo, has asked federal police to see if the U.S. probe into FIFA could help identify crimes that may have been committed by Brazilian sport officials and businessmen.

After being visited by police agents, the Rio de Janeiro-based Klefer Sports Marketing company said it had turned over all the documents requested pertaining to its contract with the Brazilian soccer confederation for marketing rights to the domestic soccer championship. Klefer signed the contract together with Traffic, a Brazilian sports marketing company that American officials are investigating.

Meanwhile, the Brazilian Senate on Thursday approved the request made by former soccer star and now Senator Romario for the creation of a congressional panel to investigate corruption in soccer.

In Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian confederation ordered the removal of the name of Jose Maria Marin from its lavish building.

The 83-year-old Marin, a former confederation president, is one of 14 senior sports officials and executives charged with taking part in the FIFA bribery and kickback scheme. He was arrested in Zurich on Wednesday.

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9:39 p.m. (1939 GMT, 3:39 p.m. EDT)

Following a U.S. extradition request, a judge in Buenos Aires has ordered the arrest of three Argentine businessmen in connection with the FIFA corruption scandal.

Judge Marcelo Martinez de Giorgi told local radio Thursday that he has issued arrest orders for Alejandro Burzaco, the president of Argentine sports marketing firm Torneos y Competencias, as well as Mariano and Hugo Jinkis, the owners of Argentina-based sports media business Full Play.

The judge says Interpol "is working" on his request.

The three men are accused of bribing officials at the Conmebol and CONCACAF confederations for TV and marketing rights of continental tournaments.

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8:05 p.m. (1805 GMT, 2:05 p.m. EDT)

IOC President Thomas Bach says Sepp Blatter and FIFA can learn from the way the Olympic body cleaned itself up after the Salt Lake City scandal.

Bach urged Blatter — who is also an IOC member — to "take all necessary measures" following the U.S. and Swiss corruption investigations that rocked FIFA this week ahead of Friday's presidential election.

Bach cited the "sad and difficult days for FIFA" in his speech Thursday at the opening ceremony of the FIFA congress in Zurich.

"In the IOC we know from experience 15 years ago that this fight is challenging and painful," Bach said, referring to the vote-buying scandal involving Salt Lake City's winning bid for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Ten International Olympic Committee members resigned or were expelled for accepting cash, gifts and other inducements. The IOC also approved a raft of reforms that included tighter ethics rules and a ban on member visits to bid cities.

Bach encouraged Blatter to "strengthen your cooperation with the relevant authorities, to shed full light on all the concerned matters and to take all the necessary measures by means of your new structures which you recently created in order to properly address such grave allegations."

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THE LATEST: UEFA chief: FIFA's Blatter nixed call to resign
Swiss attorney General Michael Lauber attends a press conference on June 17, 2015 in Bern. Swiss authorities are investigating the 2010 FIFA vote that awarded the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
NAGOYA, JAPAN - DECEMBER 07: Chuck Blazer Chairman of the Organising Committee for the FIFA Club World Cup talks to the media during the FIFA Club World Cup Organising Committee Press Conference at Nagoya Marriott Associa Hotel on December 7, 2011 in Nagoya, Japan. (Photo by Shaun Botterill - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
This is a combo of six file photos of the soccer officials involved in the US Justice Department of investigation into corruption at FIFA. From top left clockwise a Jeffrey Webb: Current FIFA vice-president and executive committee member, Concacaf president, Jose Maria Marin Current member of the FIFA organising committee for the Olympic football tournaments, Nicolas Leoz former FIFA executive committee member and Conmebol president, Eugenio Figueredo current FIFA vice-president and executive committee member, Jack Warner, former FIFA vice-president and executive committee member, Concacaf president, and Eduardo Li, current FIFA executive committee member-elect, Concacaf executive committee member . (AP Photo/File)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - MAY 27: An FBI agent wearing a mask carries a box from the headquarters of CONCACAF after it was raided on May 27, 2015 in Miami Beach, Florida. The raid is part of an international investigation of FIFA where nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives were charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies. (Photo by Joe Skipper/Getty Images)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - MAY 27: FBI agents carry boxes and computers from the headquarters of CONCACAF after it was raided on May 27, 2015 in Miami Beach, Florida. The raid is part of an international investigation of FIFA where nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives were charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies. (Photo by Joe Skipper/Getty Images)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - MAY 27: FBI agents carry boxes from the headquarters of CONCACAF after it was raided on May 27, 2015 in Miami Beach, Florida. The raid is part of an international investigation of FIFA where nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives were charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies. (Photo by Joe Skipper/Getty Images)
Federal agents load a van with boxes and computers taken from the headquarters of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF,) Wednesday, May 27, 2015, in Miami Beach, Fla. Swiss prosecutors opened criminal proceedings into FIFA's awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, only hours after seven soccer officials were arrested Wednesday pending extradition to the U.S. in a separate probe of "rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted" corruption. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - MAY 27: FBI agents carry boxes from the headquarters of CONCACAF after it was raided on May 27, 2015 in Miami Beach, Florida. The raid is part of an international investigation of FIFA where nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives were charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies. (Photo by Joe Skipper/Getty Images)
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, center, arrives for a news conference to announce an indictment against nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives for racketeering, conspiracy and corruption, Wednesday, May 27, 2015, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Nine of the 14 that were indicted by the Justice Department are soccer officials, while four are sports marketing executives and another works in broadcasting. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 27: Attorney General Loretta Lynch speaks at a packed news conference at the U.S. Attorneys Office of the Eastern District of New York following the early morning arrest of world soccer figures, including officials of FIFA, for racketeering, bribery, money laundering and fraud on May 27, 2015 in New York City. The morning arrests took place at a hotel where FIFA members were attending a meeting for the world governing body of soccer (football) in Switzerland. The Justice Department unsealed a 47 count indictment early Wednesday charging 14 world soccer figures. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
In this Thursday April 14, 2011 file photo FIFA President Sepp Blatter, right, gives a FIFA pennant to Nicaragua's Soccer Federation President Julio Rocha during the inauguration of the construction of a new National Soccer Stadium in Managua, Nicaragua. Rocha is among the soccer officials that were arrested and detained by Swiss police on Wednesday, May 27, 2015, at the request of U.S. authorities after a raid at Baur au Lac Hotel in Zurich. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix, File)
This is a Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015 file photo of Jose Maria Marin, president of the Brazilian football confederation as he speaks during a press conference to announce the proposed host cities for football matches for the 2016 Rio Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Marin is among seven soccer officials that were arrested and detained by Swiss police on Wednesday, May 27, 2015, at the request of U.S. authorities after a raid at Baur au Lac Hotel in Zurich. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)
In this Dec. 2, 2008 file photo Eduardo Li, president of Costa Rica's National Soccer Federation, speaks with FIFA vice- President Trinidad and Tobago's Jack Warner, unseen, during a visit to the Project Goal complex in Santa Ana, Costa Rica. Li is among seven soccer officials that were arrested and detained by Swiss police on Wednesday, May 27, 2015, at the request of U.S. authorities after a raid at Baur au Lac Hotel in Zurich. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert, File)
In this Thursday, June 2, 2011 file photo, suspended FIFA executive Jack Warner gestures during a news conference held shortly after his arrival at the airport in Port-of-Spain, in his native Trinidad and Tobago. Suspended FIFA Vice President Jack Warner has resigned from world football's governing body and had the corruption charges against him dropped. Warner was suspended by FIFA last month along with Asian football chief Mohamed bin Hammam over allegations of bribery during the presidential election. (AP Photo/Shirley Bahadur, File)
In this May 1, 2014 file photo Eugenio Figueredo, president of CONMEBOL, the South America soccer confederation, speaks during a news conference in Bal Harbour, Fla.. Figueredo is among seven soccer officials that were arrested and detained by Swiss police on Wednesday, May 27, 2015, at the request of U.S. authorities after a raid at Baur au Lac Hotel in Zurich. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File)
In this Nov. 8, 2004 file photo Rafael Esquivel, President of the Venezuelan Soccer Federation, is shown in Caracas, Venezuela. Esquivel is among seven soccer officials that were arrested and detained by Swiss police on Wednesday, May 27, 2015, at the request of U.S. authorities after a raid at Baur au Lac Hotel in Zurich. (AP Photo/Leslie Mazoch, File)
This is a Wednesday, July 4, 2012 file photo of President of the South American Football Confederation, CONMEBOL, and former FIFA executive member, Paraguay's Nicolas Leoz as he speaks with former Brazilian soccer player Pele during a news conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Leoz was one of the 14 people indicted Wednesday May 27, 2015 in the U.S. on corruption charges. (AP Photo/Andre Penner, File)
In this March 12, 2015 file photo, CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb speaks during a Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football news conference in Philadelphia. Six soccer officials were arrested and detained by Swiss police on Wednesday, May 27, 2015, pending extradition at the request of U.S. authorities after a raid at Baur au Lac Hotel in Zurich. CONCACAF leader and FIFA vice president Webb of the Cayman Islands, was staying at the luxury hotel this week. It was unclear if he was detained. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
Costa Rican Football Federation acting President Jorge Hidalgo speaks during a press conference on May 27, 2015, in Lindora, 20 km west of San Jose, about the capture of Costa Rican Football Federation President Eduardo Li and six executives of FIFA in Zurich, Switzerland. AFP PHOTO / Ezequiel BECERRA (Photo credit should read EZEQUIEL BECERRA/AFP/Getty Images)
US Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announces charges against FIFA officials at a news conference on May 27, 2015 in New York. The soccer officials arrested on Wednesday in an investigation into the FIFA governing body have corrupted the international game, Lynch said Wednesday. She spoke after Swiss authorities acting on the US indictments detained several FIFA leaders in a dawn raid in Zurich as part of a corruption probe that has rocked the sport's governing body. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
A graphic called "Sports Marketing Bribery Schemes" is displayed during a news conference announcing an indictment against nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives for racketeering, conspiracy and corruption at a news conference, Wednesday, May 27, 2015, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Nine of the 14 that were indicted by the Justice Department are soccer officials, while four are sports marketing executives and another works in broadcasting. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
A graphic called "The Enterprise" is displayed during a news conference announcing an indictment against nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives for racketeering, conspiracy and corruption at a news conference, Wednesday, May 27, 2015, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Nine of the 14 that were indicted by the Justice Department are soccer officials, while four are sports marketing executives and another works in broadcasting. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
FIFA spokesman Walter De Gregorio arrives to give a press conference at the FIFA headquarters, on May 27, 2015 in Zurich. Swiss police on Wednesday raided a Zurich hotel to detain six top football officials as part of a US investigation into tens of millions of dollars of bribes paid to sport leaders, Swiss authorities and media reports said. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
FIFA spokesman Walter De Gregorio gives a press conference at the FIFA headquarters, on May 27, 2015 in Zurich. Swiss police on Wednesday raided a Zurich hotel to detain six top football officials as part of a US investigation into tens of millions of dollars of bribes paid to sport leaders, Swiss authorities and media reports said. (Photo credit Fabrice Coffrini, AFP/Getty Images)
FIFA spokesman Walter De Gregorio gives a press conference at the FIFA headquarters, on May 27, 2015 in Zurich. Swiss police on Wednesday raided a Zurich hotel to detain six top football officials as part of a US investigation into tens of millions of dollars of bribes paid to sport leaders, Swiss authorities and media reports said. (Photo credit Fabrice Coffrini, AFP/Getty Images)
An FBI agent retrieves equipment from a van as he prepares to re-enter the offices of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF,) Wednesday, May 27, 2015, in Miami Beach, Fla. Swiss prosecutors opened criminal proceedings into FIFA's awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, only hours after seven soccer officials were arrested Wednesday pending extradition to the U.S. in a separate probe of "rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted" corruption. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
A staff waits prior to a press conference at the FIFA heaquarters on May 27, 2015 in Zurich. Swiss police on Wednesday raided a Zurich hotel to detain six top football officials as part of a US investigation into tens of millions of dollars of bribes paid to sport leaders, Swiss authorities and media reports said. (Photo credit Fabrice Coffrini, AFP/Getty Images)
FIFA Director of Communications Walter de Gregorio attends a press conference at the FIFA headquarters on May 27, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland. Swiss police on Wednesday raided a Zurich hotel to detain top FIFA football officials as part of a US investigation. (Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)
Picture taken from a cell phone video shows hotel employees holding a blanked to hide the identity of a person led out of a side entrance of the Baur au Lac hotel to a waiting car in Zurich, Switzerland, Wednesday, May 27, 2015. Six soccer officials were arrested and detained by Swiss police on Wednesday pending extradition at the request of U.S. authorities after a raid in the luxury hotel. The case involves bribes "totaling more than US$ 100 million" linked to commercial deals dating back to the 1990s for soccer tournaments in the United States and Latin America, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice said in a statement. (AP Photo/Rob Harris)
FIFA Director of Communications Walter de Gregorio reacts during a press conference at the FIFA headquarters on May 27, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland. Swiss police on Wednesday raided a Zurich hotel to detain top FIFA football officials as part of a US investigation. (Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)
FBI agents retrieve equipment from a van as they prepares to re-enter the offices of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF,) Wednesday, May 27, 2015, in Miami Beach, Fla. Swiss prosecutors opened criminal proceedings into FIFA's awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, only hours after seven soccer officials were arrested Wednesday pending extradition to the U.S. in a separate probe of "rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted" corruption. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
A man walks by the headquarters of the international soccer's top body FIFA in Zurich, on May 27, 2015. Swiss police raided the headquarters of FIFA in Zurich, seizing documents and data, the Swiss attorney-general's office said. The raids were part of an investigation already underway into money laundering and fraud involving FIFA's awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively, a statement said. (Photo credit Fabrice Coffrini, AFP/Getty Images)
A cloud is seen above the headquarters of international soccer's top body FIFA, on May 27, 2015 in Zurich. Swiss policeraided a Zurich hotel to detain six top football officials as part of a US investigation into tens of millions of dollars of bribes paid to sport leaders, Swiss authorities and media reports said. (Photo credit Fabrice Coffrini, AFP/Getty Images)
A woman walks by a logo of international soccer's top body FIFA, on May 27, 2015 at the organization's headquarters in Zurich. Swiss policeraided a Zurich hotel to detain six top football officials as part of a US investigation into tens of millions of dollars of bribes paid to sport leaders, Swiss authorities and media reports said. (Photo credit Fabrice Coffrini, AFP/Getty Images)
Media gathers outside the Hotel Baur-au-Lac where Swiss authorities conducted an early morning operation on May 27, 2015 to arrest several top soccer officials and extradite them to the United States on federal corruption charges. FIFA said it was seeking to clarify the situation after six football officials were arrested in Zurich on the request of US authorities, suspected of receiving bribes worth millions of dollars. (Photo credit AFP/Getty Images)
People stand outside the Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich, Switzerland, Wednesday, May 27, 2015 where six soccer officials were arrested and detained by Swiss police on Wednesday pending extradition at the request of U.S. authorities after a raid. The case involves bribes "totaling more than US$ 100 million" linked to commercial deals dating back to the 1990s for soccer tournaments in the United States and Latin America, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice said in a statement. (AP Photo/Rob Harris)
FIFA senior Vice President Issa Hayatou of Cameroon, third right, checka his phone outside an hotel in Zurich, Switzerland, Wednesday morning, May 27, 2015. The Swiss Federal Office of Justice said six soccer officials have been arrested and detained pending extradition at the request of U.S. authorities ahead of the FIFA congress in Zurich. In a statement Wednesday the FOJ said U.S. authorities suspect the officials of having received paid bribes totaling millions of dollars. Swiss federal prosecutors also announced that they were to open criminal proceedings related to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. (AP Photo/Graham Dunbar)
The Luzhniki Stadium which will host the final of the 2018 World Cup, is under reconstruction in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, May 27, 2015. After Swiss prosecutors opened criminal proceedings Wednesday into FIFA's awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told The Associated Press "we've got nothing to hide." (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
Two men talk to each other in front of the FIFA logo at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, Wednesday, May 27, 2015. Swiss prosecutors opened criminal proceedings into FIFA's awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, only hours after seven soccer officials were arrested Wednesday pending extradition to the U.S. in a separate probe of "rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted" corruption. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
FIFA President Joseph Blatter s attends a news conference following the FIFA Executive Committee meeting in Zurich, Switzerland, on Friday, March 20, 2015. Among many topics, the Committee discussed the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. (AP Photo/Keystone,Ennio Leanza)
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7:23 p.m. (1723 GMT, 1:23 p.m. EDT)

A Kuwaiti sheikh who is set to join FIFA's executive committee on Friday has criticized the "Hollywood-style" raid by Swiss police on the FIFA hotel in Zurich as part of a U.S. investigation into corruption.

Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, already a powerful Olympic powerbroker, questioned whether the American probe stems from the country losing out on the 2022 World Cup to Qatar and its tense relationship with 2018 host Russia over the Ukraine conflict.

"Is it because they (the U.S) want to kill FIFA? Is it because they (US) didn't win the election?" Sheikh Ahmad told The Associated Press, referencing the 2010 vote on World Cup hosts. "Is it related to the Ukraine-Russian war? A lot of questions (are being) raised ... maybe not a lot of people can say it."

Sheikh Ahmad, who heads the Association of National Olympic Committees, endorsed Sepp Blatter to win a fifth term as FIFA president in the election on Friday.

"He is the best from the names we are seeing on the list of who is running for the leadership of this organization," Sheikh Ahmad said. "He is the most qualified one to continue."

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6:45 p.m. (1645 GMT, 12:45 EDT)

CONCACAF says it has provisionally banned its president, Jeffrey Webb, after he was detained by police in Zurich as part of a U.S. investigation into soccer corruption.

Alfredo Hawit from Honduras, who was named president of the North American confederation, said in a statement that it had become "the victim of fraud" and was cooperating with government investigators.

Webb was provisionally suspended on Wednesday from his role as FIFA vice president and all soccer activities.

Soccer officials have come under increasing pressure amid U.S. and Swiss federal investigations into high-level corruption tearing at FIFA and the world's most popular sport.

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6:45 p.m. (1645 GMT, 12:45 EDT)

Switzerland's sports minister said the country was doing its duty arresting FIFA officials for an American probe of corruption in soccer.

Ueli Maurer told the FIFA congress on Thursday that Switzerland "fulfills its international treaty obligations" to provide legal assistance. He said Switzerland "strongly condemns any form of corruption" and is committed to fighting it.

Two FIFA vice presidents and two presidents of FIFA member federations were among seven men arrested Wednesday at the request of United States federal agencies.

They are suspected a wide-ranging case of bribery, money laundering and wire fraud linked to marketing rights worth hundreds of millions of dollars for tournaments in North and South America.

A separate Swiss federal probe into possible "criminal mismanagement" in the 2018-2022 World Cup votes must proceed in due course, Maurer said.

Swiss police seized evidence from FIFA headquarters in a raid early Wednesday.

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6:45 p.m. (1645 GMT, 12:45 EDT)

Swiss authorities say that a soccer official who had agreed to be extradited to the United States has changed his mind and now plans to fight the U.S. request.

The unnamed soccer official was detained Wednesday together with six others while visiting Switzerland for a meeting of the game's governing body FIFA.

Unlike the others, he had initially agreed to a simplified extradition procedure that would have allowed him to be handed over within days to the U.S., to face corruption charges.

Swiss Justice Ministry spokesman Folco Galli said the seventh official "declared in a second hearing (Thursday) that he plans to resist the extradition."

The United States has 40 days to submit a formal extradition request for the men, who continue to be held in detention.

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6:00 p.m. (1600 GMT, 12:00 EDT)

FIFA President Sepp Blatter says an American federal probe into soccer corruption brings "shame and humiliation" upon the sport.

Blatter blamed the "actions of individuals" and said "it has to be stopped now" to prevent FIFA's reputation from being "dragged through the mud."

Though Blatter told FIFA's 209 member federations Thursday that events "demand change from us all," he said he intends to continue leading FIFA through its problems.

American and Swiss authorities are pursuing separate federal investigations, respectively, into racketeering and the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting votes.

"I know many people hold me ultimately responsible for the actions and reputation of the global football community, whether it's a decision for the hosting of a World Cup or a corruption scandal," Blatter said. "We, or I, cannot monitor everyone all of the time. If people want to do wrong, they will also try to hide it."

He said he had a responsibility "for the reputation and well-being of our organization — and to find the way forward to fix things."

Blatter says he expects more bad news to follow.

The FIFA chief tells his voters ahead of Friday's presidential election that soccer officials work "not for greed, not for exploit(ation), not for power but because of love for the game."

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6:00 p.m. (1800 GMT, 12:00 EDT)

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said football in her country "will only benefit" from the corruption investigation centering on FIFA and other top officials in the sport.

The comments on Thursday come after Brazilian soccer was hit hard by the announcement of the investigation a day earlier, with some of its top officials accused of wrongdoing and a major sponsorship deal involving the national team linked to kickbacks and bribery.

Brazil's football confederation is now re-evaluating its contracts with its commercial partners, and a congressional probe into how local soccer is run is in the works.

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

Sepp Blatter has arrived at the FIFA Congress opening ceremony, making his first public appearance in two days.

The FIFA president did not respond to questions asking why he has not resigned after American and Swiss federal corruption investigations rocked world soccer on Wednesday.

Blatter defied a face-to-face demand Thursday from FIFA vice president Michel Platini to resign ahead of Friday's presidential election.

Instead, the 79-year-old FIFA chief will go ahead to a contest against Prince Ali of Jordan.

Blatter was set to make a congress opening speech to the 209 FIFA member federations who will vote Friday.

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

South Africa's sports minister has denied any wrongdoing by his country's government in its 2010 World Cup bid. Fikile Mbalula said: "We've got no reasons to have sleepless nights."

Mbalula was speaking Thursday at South Africa's Olympic committee headquarters in Johannesburg after the successful bid to host the first World Cup in Africa was implicated in bribery allegations in the U.S. Department of Justice's probe into corruption in world soccer.

One of the allegations was that the South African government and a bid official may have proposed a $10-million payment to former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner to secure his vote, and the votes of two other executive committee members. South Africa beat Morocco 14-10 in the May 2004 FIFA vote.

Mbalula, who wasn't in office at the time of the bid, said the South African government had "no business" with Warner. He also said the government hadn't seen the full indictment papers from the U.S.

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3:50 p.m. (1350 GMT, 9:50 EDT)

UEFA President Michel Platini says some European countries might pull out of FIFA and the World Cup if Sepp Blatter wins a fifth term as FIFA president.

Speaking at a news conference in Zurich, Platini said through a translator that the European football body will be "open to all options" but insisted that he opposes a boycott of FIFA — even if longtime president Blatter beats Prince Ali of Jordan in Friday's election.

Platini says he expects that a majority of European countries — at least 45 — will vote for the Jordanian royal in the 209-nation election after UEFA backed down from a threat to boycott the FIFA Congress.

Platini said he told Blatter directly in a meeting on Thursday morning to stand down before the ballot — but the FIFA chief refused.

Platini lamented "too many scandals" and said "FIFA doesn't deserve to be treated that way."

With FIFA engulfed by a corruption scandal prompted by an investigation by U.S. authorities announced Wednesday, Platini said that Ali "doesn't need money because he is a prince."

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3:50 p.m. (1350 GMT, 9:50 EDT)

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko says the FIFA scandal will have no effect on his country's plans to host the 2018 World Cup.

Speaking to Russian television in Zurich, Mutko said: "Our bidding was conducted in a fair manner. Russia is not involved in corruption, everything was above board."

Mutko denied speculation that he had been summoned for questioning in Zurich in connection with the alleged corruption case.

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2:50 p.m. (1250 GMT, 8:50 EDT)

European soccer nations say they will not boycott the FIFA congress, where Sepp Blatter is up for re-election as president.

Football Association of Ireland chief executive John Delaney says UEFA backed down from its threatened boycott on Thursday, hours before the start of the congress.

Delaney also says English Football Association vice chairman David Gill will reject his seat on the FIFA executive committee if Blatter wins on Friday.

Gill was to replace Jim Boyce in holding the vice presidency guaranteed for British nations.

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2:50 p.m. (1250 GMT, 8:50 EDT)

The embattled CONCACAF soccer body says it wants the FIFA presidential election to go ahead Friday.

The North American regional body says its 35 FIFA voters are "unanimous that the election should go forward as planned."

FIFA President Sepp Blatter is favored to win re-election against Prince Ali of Jordan.

European body UEFA has urged postponing the election for six months because of the turmoil rocking FIFA.

CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb, a FIFA vice president from the Cayman Islands, and Costa Rica soccer leader Eduardo Li were among several seven high-ranking soccer officials arrested Wednesday at a luxury Zurich hotel.

American federal agencies investigating bribery and racketeering in world soccer are seeking their extradition.

Li was set to formally join the FIFA executive committee on Friday.

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1:30 p.m. (1130 GMT, 7:30 a.m. EDT)

The Confederation of African Football has repeated its backing for Sepp Blatter and wants the FIFA presidential election to go ahead on Friday.

CAF's statement on Thursday followed one by the Asian Football Confederation also pledging its support for Blatter and saying the election should take place as scheduled.

Following a meeting Wednesday in Zurich, CAF said it "opposes any postponement" of the election, and "reiterated its support for the candidacy of Sepp Blatter."

FIFA is facing calls to postpone the election after FIFA executives were arrested to face racketeering charges from the United States Department of Justice.

CAF, which is led by senior FIFA Vice President Issa Hayatou, said it "is following with particular attention the events that occur at this time in the football family."

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1:30 p.m. (1130 GMT, 7:30 EDT)

FIFA's ethics committee has suspended American marketing executive Aaron Davidson from all soccer duties after he was named in a federal racketeering case.

Davidson, who is president of Traffic Sports USA, was indicted on financial corruption charges Wednesday.

He is also chairman of the North American Soccer League, which suspended him Wednesday.

Traffic Sports owns the Carolina RailHawks team, based in Cary, North Carolina.

Traffic Sports USA Inc. and Traffic Sports International Inc. are the two corporate defendants that the U.S. Department of Justice said pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy.

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1:30 p.m. (1130 GMT, 7:30 EDT)

David Cameron's office says the British prime minister supports calls for Sepp Blatter to resign as FIFA president after corruption charges against several senior officials at soccer's governing body.

Downing Street says Cameron is "foursquare behind" Prince Ali of Jordan to replace Blatter. FIFA's presidential vote is due Friday, though there have been calls for it to be postponed because of the criminal investigation.

Officials say Britain is not demanding a rerun of bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Britain bid unsuccessfully to host the 2018 tournament, which was awarded to Russia.

British Sports Secretary John Whittingdale said: "I think it is too soon to say there should be a re-running of the (2018) competition," adding that Britain would wait to see the outcome of the criminal investigations.

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

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has chaired an emergency meeting with continental soccer bodies, while staying out of public view himself.

Blatter called together leaders of FIFA's six regions Thursday as world soccer is rocked by a U.S. federal racketeering case.

FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer says Blatter met with representatives from soccer's confederations "to discuss the current situation."

Blatter is resisting calls from European soccer body UEFA to postpone Friday's FIFA presidential election by six months. He is also avoiding appearing in public.

Blatter missed giving a scheduled speech to open a session of FIFA's medical conference in a Zurich hotel — his third skipped public appearance within 24 hours.

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11:30 a.m. (0930 GMT, 5:30 a.m. EDT)

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the United States is meddling in FIFA's affairs in an attempt to take the 2018 World Cup away from his country.

Putin said in televised comments Thursday that it is "odd" that the probe was launched at the request of U.S. officials for crimes which do not involve its citizens and did not happen in the United States." Two of the 14 people charged by U.S. prosecutors have U.S. citizenship.

In a separate probe, Swiss prosecutors are investigating the awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar.

Putin said he is aware of "the pressure" on Sepp Blatter for his support of Russia hosting the World Cup.

Putin described Wednesday's pre-dawn arrests of seven soccer officials in Zurich as "yet another evident attempt to derail Mr. Blatter's re-election as FIFA president."

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11:30 a.m. (0930 GMT, 5:30 a.m. EDT)

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius supports the idea of delaying FIFA's election scheduled for Friday given the current corruption scandal.

Senior FIFA officials were among seven men arrested in Zurich as part of a U.S. federal racketeering case. FIFA's headquarters in Zurich were also raided by Swiss federal police for a separate probe of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests.

Fabius said on France-Inter radio Thursday, "There have been accusations of corruption for years." Asked if the election should be delayed, he said, "That would seem to make sense."

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9 a.m. (0700 GMT, 3 a.m. EDT)

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has cancelled another speaking engagement as he avoids appearing in public for a second day.

FIFA says Blatter will not give a scheduled speech to open Thursday's session of a soccer medical conference in a Zurich hotel.

Blatter skipped two meetings of continental soccer organizations on Wednesday. He typically would attend those ahead of Friday's annual congress of FIFA's 209 member federations.

The FIFA president would usually follow protocol and attend the UEFA meeting scheduled 12:30 p.m. (1030 GMT) Thursday.

However, UEFA leaders want to postpone the presidential election amid turmoil in world soccer after federal investigations by the United States and Swiss authorities hit FIFA on Wednesday.

UEFA is supporting Blatter's election opponent, FIFA vice president Prince Ali of Jordan.

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9:00 a.m. (0700 GMT, 03:00 a.m. EDT)

World Cup sponsor Visa has made its strongest call yet for FIFA to act against corruption in world soccer, warning it could leave a deal that runs through 2022.

Ahead of Friday's presidential election, Visa said it expected FIFA "to take swift and immediate steps to address these issues within its organization."

"Should FIFA fail to do so, we have informed them that we will reassess our sponsorship," Visa said.

The statement responded to the arrests Wednesday of seven officials in Zurich as part of a U.S. federal investigation of racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud.

Visa re-signed with FIFA last year to cover the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, hosted by Russia and Qatar respectively.

The value of top-tier FIFA sponsor deals is not disclosed. It was valued at around $100 million for the 2014 tournament.

Visa signed in 2007 after FIFA's former financial services partner Mastercard sued for breach of contract.

FIFA paid $90 million to settle that case after a New York judge criticized its business ethics.

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4:30 a.m. (0230 GMT, 10:30 p.m. EDT)

The Asian Football Confederation says it still supports Sepp Blatter's bid for another term as FIFA president, and opposes any move to delay Friday's scheduled elections in the wake of a string of corruption arrests of some of the federation's top officials.

In a statement on its website Thursday, the AFC expressed its "disappointment and sadness" at Wednesday's events but also said it "reiterates its decision taken at the AFC Congress in Sao Paulo in 2014 ... to support FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter."

The European federation, UEFA, had called for the elections in Zurich to be postponed due to the arrests and allegations, but the AFC said it was "opposing any delay."

Blatter is seeking a fifth, four-year term in Friday's election. His opponent is Prince Ali of Jordan.

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