Washington (CNN)Sen. Bob Menendez said on Wednesday that a pair of corruption probes into FIFA, the international soccer federation in charge of the World Cup, reinforced his concerns about the awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia.
Menendez: FIFA probes reinforce Russia 2018 concerns
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Menendez, along with Sen. John McCain, requested on Tuesday that the FIFA Congress deny President Sepp Blatter a fifth term because of Russia's international transgressions. Their letter was sent to the soccer governing body just hours before Swiss agents raided the group's Zurich headquarters and U.S. officials unsealed a 47-count indictment stemming from their own investigation.
"I have long been concerned about FIFA's selection of Russia and today's announcement only underscores the need for FIFA to elect a president who will not only uphold FIFA's values, but will ensure FIFA does not reward countries that do not uphold these values as well," according to a statement from Menendez.
FIFA officials are alleged to have accepted bribes in the awarding of World Cups, highly coveted events that spark fierce competition among global leaders. Russia was awarded the 2018 World Cup and Qatar won the 2022 World Cup.
"Given Russia's ongoing violations of Ukraine's territorial integrity, and (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's efforts to undermine the principles of multilateral cooperation, shared norms and international security agreements, we believe that allowing Russia to host the World Cup would bolster the Putin regime at a time when it should be condemned," the two senators wrote Tuesday.
Blatter is up for consideration for a fifth term heading soccer's governing body on Friday.
Menendez himself is the subject of a separate federal corruption case, rooted in allegations he illegally intervened to aid a doctor friend in a medical billing dispute. Menendez was indicted on 14 counts in April, including charges of bribery, fraud and conspiracy.