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FIFA president Blatter calls crisis meeting of soccer leaders, skips 3rd public appearance

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ZURICH — FIFA President Sepp Blatter chaired an emergency meeting with continental soccer bodies Thursday while staying out of public view himself.

Blatter called together leaders of FIFA's regions as world soccer is rocked by an American federal racketeering case.

"There was a meeting today with the president with the representatives from the confederations to discuss the current situation," FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer said in a statement.

The North American body, known as CONCACAF, said it was not represented at the meeting. CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb, a FIFA vice president, was among seven men arrested in an early morning raid at a luxury hotel Wednesday by Swiss police at the request of U.S. authorities.

Blatter is resisting calls from European soccer body UEFA to postpone Friday's FIFA presidential election by six months.

UEFA has called the dual American and Swiss federal probes a "disaster for FIFA," and is supporting Blatter's election opponent, FIFA vice president Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan.

PHOTO: FILE - The June 1, 2011 file photo shows Swiss  FIFA President Joseph (Sepp) Blatter during a press conference after the 61st FIFA Congress in Zurich, Switzerland.  Blatter is seeking reelection at the FIFA congress in Zurich. Blatter is not among the six soccer officials who were arrested and detained by Swiss police on Wednesday, May 27, 2015 pending extradition at the request of U.S. authorities after a raid at a luxury hotel. The officials are in Switzerland for the FIFA congress and presidential election.  (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
FILE - The June 1, 2011 file photo shows Swiss FIFA President Joseph (Sepp) Blatter during a press conference after the 61st FIFA Congress in Zurich, Switzerland. Blatter is seeking reelection at the FIFA congress in Zurich. Blatter is not among the six soccer officials who were arrested and detained by Swiss police on Wednesday, May 27, 2015 pending extradition at the request of U.S. authorities after a raid at a luxury hotel. The officials are in Switzerland for the FIFA congress and presidential election. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

Blatter has continued to avoid appearing in public since Swiss federal agencies raided FIFA headquarters and the Baur au Lac hotel. He missed giving a scheduled speech to open a session of FIFA's medical conference in a Zurich hotel — his third skipped public appearance within 24 hours.

FIFA chief medical officer Jiri Dvorak told delegates that Blatter has to "manage the situation."

Two FIFA vice presidents were among seven men arrested at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice. In a separate investigation, Swiss federal agencies seized evidence at FIFA headquarters for a probe of the 2018-2022 World Cup bidding contests.

Blatter skipped two meetings of continental soccer organizations from Africa and South America on Wednesday. He typically would attend those ahead of Friday's annual congress of FIFA's 209 member federations.

Late Wednesday, FIFA issued a statement on behalf of Blatter where the president insisted he was determined to root out misconduct.

The FIFA president would also usually follow protocol and attend Thursday's UEFA meeting. He is scheduled to appear later in the day.

Blatter is also expected to address member federations — the FIFA election voters — at the opening ceremony of the congress at 5 p.m. (1500 GMT).

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