By Brian Homewood
ZURICH, May 15 (Reuters) - FIFA president Sepp Blatter said there is no reason for him not to visit the United States and that he plans to go next year when the country stages the Centenary edition of the Copa America.
A documentary aired by ESPN on Tuesday suggested that Blatter was reluctant to travel to the U.S. because of an FBI investigation into the controversial bidding process for the hosting of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
“I will be at the Copa Centenario if elected, and even if I‘m not elected, I expect I will still be invited,” said Blatter, who is standing for a fifth term as president at the FIFA election on May 29.
“I know that in the U.S. there is an investigation against former people, who have been in my government, there is nothing against me,” he told reporters.
Blatter said it was usual for him to concentrate his visits on FIFA’s smaller members nations, rather than the larger ones.
“I am going to visit merely the national associations (who) are in need,” he added.
”If you ask me the last time I was in China, it was at the Olympic Games, in 2008.
“In Germany, since 2011, I have been once, I was invited to the national team reception in Berlin, so I am not taking (avoiding) one country or the other.”
He added that if the FBI wanted to speak to him they could go through international channels.
Reuters reported in 2013 that FBI investigators had persuaded Daryan Warner, a son of former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, to be a co-operating witness as part of an investigation into allegations of corruption in FIFA and affiliated organisations.
The report said that the FBI had been examining more than $500,000 in payments made by the Caribbean Football Union to an offshore company headed by former FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer, formerly a leading soccer official in the United States.
Warner, who was CONCACAF president for 21 years and was seen as a major powerbroker, resigned from all his soccer positions in June 2011 after he was suspended by FIFA following allegations in a cash-for-votes scandal ahead of that year’s presidential election.
The Copa Centenario will be a 16-team event to celebrate the first edition of the South American championship (Copa America), the world’s oldest continental tournament.
The 10 South American teams will take part along with six others invited from elsewhere.
Editing by Ed Osmond