FIFA President Sepp Blatter says he plans to visit the United States next year, dismissing a report that he was avoiding the country because of an ongoing FBI investigation of two former FIFA executive committee members.
In addition, Blatter said he wants to see a new rule implemented that would prevent Europe from bidding to host the 2026 World Cup, improving the United States' chances of securing soccer's biggest tournament.
Blatter told the Associated Press in Zurich, Switzerland on Friday that he is planning to visit the U.S. in June 2016. He said the FBI's financial corruption probe regarding the process that led to awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup sites has not kept him from visiting the country in recent years.
Blatter said "everyone knows that in the U.S. there is an investigation" but that it has nothing to do with him. He also stated he'd speak to FBI investigators if they wanted to contact him.
ESPN reported earlier this week that Blatter was avoiding the U.S. because of a FBI probe implicating former FIFA executive committee members Jack Warner and Chuck Blazer. A FIFA spokeswoman said Blatter is not trying to avoid the U.S., and stated soccer's international organizing body had "never received any request" from American law enforcement.
Blatter last visited the U.S. in May 2011. He plans to return for next year's Copa America.
In regard to bolstering the United States' World Cup hosting chances, Blatter said the FIFA executive committee could soon agree on a rule that would block continental confederations from bidding on the next two World Cups after hosting.
"It should be this way," Blatter said.
FIFA will choose the 2026 host in May 2017. The U.S. is expected to be among potential bidders for the tournament.