Issa Hayatou (L), Senior Vice President of the FIFA stands with Sepp Blatter (Photo: Reuters)
FIFA President Sepp Blatter will not travel to Canada for the final of the women's World Cup on July 5 for personal reasons, a U.S.-based lawyer for Blatter said on Tuesday.
Senior executives of Zurich-based FIFA were charged with corruption on May 27 by prosecutors in the United States over bids for major soccer tournaments dating back 24 years and involving up to $150 million in purported bribes.
Blatter came under pressure to step down, and he announced on June 2 that he would do so. U.S. prosecutors have not accused Blatter of wrongdoing but his stewardship of world soccer's governing body is under scrutiny, sources familiar with investigations in the United States and Switzerland have said.
"He's not going to go to the finals in Canada," said the lawyer, Richard Cullen. "He has informed the organizers of that and cited personal reasons."
Cullen said that FIFA Senior Vice President Issa Hayatou of Cameroon would preside at the trophy ceremony after the final in Vancouver instead.
This will be the first time Blatter has not presented the trophy to the winners of the women's competition, which is held every four years, since he became FIFA president in 1998.
Blatter, the self-styled "godfather of women's football," said before the tournament began on June 6 that he was looking forward to being in Canada. The tournament's semi-finals will be contested by the United States and Germany on Tuesday and England and Japan on Wednesday.
Investigations by U.S. and Swiss authorities also include scrutiny of how FIFA awarded World Cup hosting rights to Russia and Qatar for the 2018 and 2022 men's tournaments.