Sepp Blatter: Fifa scandal could have been avoided

Blatter has also questioned the timing of Wednesday’s arrest of seven soccer officials.

FILE: Fifa President Joseph Sepp Blatter. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Fifa President Sepp Blatter says the scandal-plagued football body may have avoided its current problems if Russia and Qatar had not been chosen as hosts of the next two World Cups.

Blatter, who was addressing delegates at the 65th Fifa congress in Zurich, ahead of the election of the organisation's president, says they face a tough time ahead.

Blatter has also questioned the timing of Wednesday's arrest of seven soccer officials, including Fifa vice president Jeffrey Webb, in a dawn raid on a luxury Zurich hotel.

A top South African bidding official was implicated and is under investigation for allegedly bribing a Fifa executive.

They are being held in custody pending an extradition request to the United States where they are wanted on corruption charges.

Blatter said the world football governing body must begin working on rehabilitating the organisation.

"The next few months will not be easy for Fifa. I'm sure more bad news will follow but it is necessary to begin to restore trust in our organisation," said Blatter.

The election is due to take place sometime today and president of the International Press Sports Association Gianna Merlo says Blatter will most likely remain in his position.

But Merlo says the focus at this year's conference is firmly on corruption.

"The American has asked me to avoid the electronic vote but to be back today, but vote with paper. Corruption is there in the world of football unfortunately and we have to fight corruption so we have to find something that can be useful in the future."

BOMB THREAT

Meanwhile, Swiss police confirmed they investigated a bomb threat against Fifa.

An early lunch was taken to investigate but with the threat now cleared the congress is set to resume on schedule.

MBEKI: SA'S HANDS ARE CLEAN

Former President Thabo Mbeki said his former government would never have paid a bribe to any officials to secure the hosting of the 2010 Fifa World Cup even if it was solicited.

Mbeki on Friday responded to the arrests of several people and a wide ranging investigation by the FBI.

The FBI claims a senior soccer official from South Africa travelled to Paris before the vote for the world cup to hand over money to Warner.

WATCH: Jack Warner responds.