Fifa allegations down to sour grapes, says Blatter
Fifa president accuses British of being ‘stubborn’ as he aims for re-election
Sepp Blatter has accused the British press of being hostile towards Fifa and suggested that England's failure to win the right to host the 2018 World Cup is a motivating factor behind recent allegations against the organisation.
Football's world governing body faced new scandal last week as Lord Triesman and the Sunday Times accused a total of six Fifa executives of corruption and bribery at a parliamentary committee hearing. Yet Blatter, who is hoping to win a fourth term as president in an upcoming election, suggested there may be alternative motives for the allegations.
"The British press have always been very critical regarding football and Fifa. It didn't start with me. It's been a long time," he said. "There is a sort of stubbornness against football and Fifa. Of course there is the fact that England didn't get the World Cup. But perhaps you have to analyse why."
Blatter continued: "The English say: 'If we'd been told that the World Cup was going towards new territories, we wouldn't have bid.' If they'd followed the policy of the Fifa president, they would have seen that the World Cup was in the process of circulating, in Asia (2002), South Africa (2010), Brazil (2014)."
Critics of Blatter will see the somewhat dismissive comments as a sign that he has failed to treat the latest allegations with as much seriousness they appear to demand. His indifferent tone also suggests that Blatter is unlikely to accept the parliamentary committee request that he attend a hearing in person to respond to the accusations.
Blatter, however, insists reforming Fifa is his top priority, a promise that has become a central platform in his campaign for re-election. "I'm here to put football back on track," the 75-year-old said.
"After the turbulence, then the disruptions during October I thought that I could calmly go to the elective congress and announce my 'zero tolerance' plan, on which I had already started to work... and then my idea of a council of wise heads made up of personalities from outside the world of football.
"And now this!" he continued. "This British parliamentary enquiry lands in our laps. So either there is no proof and we classify the affair, but we can't file away the statements made by Mr Triesman, or we open an inquiry straight away with the ethics committee."
On June 1, when 208 Fifa members cast their vote in secret, Blatter will see whether his pledges have done enough to secure an unprecedented fourth term in office. Having already gained the public backing of four continents football bodies, and with rival candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam increasingly embroiled in the Qatari corruption allegations, it will take a major upset for Blatter to be ousted.
"I can't lose," he told a German news agency. "I have confidence in myself and confidence also that the associations will choose me for another four years." ·
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