WASHINGTON, July 16 (UPI) -- Andrew Jennings, the investigative journalist and filmmaker whose work led to the high-profile arrests of FIFA officials in May, criticized the U.S. Soccer Federation's role in the bribery and kickback scandal at a Capitol Hill hearing.
Dan Flynn, U.S. Soccer's chief executive, said he had no knowledge of FIFA corruption during his 15 years with the soccer organization.
Carefully choosing his words, Flynn acknowledged that he had "moments of discomfort" -- yet no direct knowledge of wrongdoing. Flynn couldn't pinpoint those moments.
Flynn and Jennings appeared Wednesday before a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee on consumer protection, product safety, insurance and data security.
"With the announcement that FIFA President [Sepp] Blatter plans to step down, we're at a crossroads for the future of soccer," said subcommittee Chairman, Jerry Moran, R-Kansas. "Now is the time for the United States and U.S. Soccer Federation to engage and determine how we can encourage meaningful reforms."
When Flynn was asked by the panel's top Democrat, Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, why he didn't act on his concerns, the witness conferred with his counsel, whispering. Finally, he answered: "It was all, I think, a general feeling, I had no hard evidence."
Jennings, the only journalist to be banned by Blatter, was not buying Flynn's testimony and also criticized U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati, who was not at the hearing.
"Where is Sunil? Where is he?" the British journalist asked. "He is the man to talk about U.S. Soccer, and to FIFA, and to CONCACAF," the regional soccer organization that includes the United States among its members. "It undermines the whole process, " Jennings said.
"U.S. Soccer had to know ... but they looked away," he said.
Jennings, who has also covered organized crime, said he saw no difference between FIFA and domestic crime organizations.
"I had experience of organized crime, filming nose to nose with the Mafia in Palermo," Jennings told the subcommittee. "Blatter's FIFA ticks all the boxes defining an organized crime syndicate. Seizing and holding power; massive stealing; running rackets; compromising and outwitting the public authorities; hiding their criminality behind the world's most popular game."