FIFA refuses chance to testify at Senate hearing

FIFA refuses chance to testify at Senate hearing
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Amid a political furor and legal crackdown, the head of international soccer body FIFA has refused an invitation to appear on Capitol Hill this week.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter declined to appear at a Senate Consumer Protection subcommittee hearing on the organization’s woes, Chairman Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Overnight Energy & Environment — Starting from 'scratch' on climate, spending bill Eight senators ask Biden to reverse course on Trump-era solar tariffs MORE (R-Kansas) said on Tuesday.

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“Sen. Moran’s office reached out to FIFA to explore the possibility of having Mr. Blatter testify but the organization declined,” spokesman Garrette Turner said.

The hearing is scheduled to probe both the recent allegations of corruption and bribery at FIFA as well as human rights abuses believed to have occurred in connection with the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

“The recent revelations of bribery and mismanagement at FIFA should be of concern to us all,” Moran said earlier this month, while announcing the hearing. “The organization’s culture of corruption is turning a blind eye to significant human rights violations and the tragic loss of lives."

Blatter has been largely absent from the public in recent weeks since the Justice Department filed charges against top FIFA officials — but not Blatter himself — in May.

The risk of arrest has prevented him from leaving his native Switzerland, Blatter said earlier this month.

"Not because the Americans have anything concrete against me, but because it would cause a public stir," he told the German Welt am Sonntag newspaper. "Until everything has been cleared up, I am not going to take the risk of traveling."

He did not attend the final of the Women’s World Cup in Canada this month, when the American team was crowned world champions.

However, he has said he will be traveling to Russia later this month as part of the run up to its hosting of the World Cup in 2018. Russia does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S., presumably making it a safer destination for Blatter.  

Instead of hearing from FIFA itself, lawmakers will listen to testimony from the CEO of the U.S. Soccer Federation; an advocacy director from Amnesty International; Andrew Jennings, an investigative reporter who has focused on FIFA and risk management firm Fairfax Group.