Blatter parries shots over Fifa corruption claim

2011-05-21 17:56

“No! Fifa is not corrupt. I am not going to allow anyone in this room to say Fifa is corrupt,” a hot-under-the-collar Sepp ­Blatter told a press conference in Sandton, Johannesburg, ­yesterday afternoon.

The Fifa president was responding to a question on what steps he would take to ­reverse the perception created by allegations of bribery emanating from ­England over the 2022 Fifa World Cup awarded to Qatar.

A piqued Blatter, who seemed to think the question meant that Fifa was corrupt, roared: “We have over 300 ­million members and if there is a black sheep it doesn’t mean that the whole organisation is ­corrupt.”

He reiterated that Fifa was meeting with one of the whistleblowers who had been asked “to bring all the evidence they have to Zurich on Wednesday.”

According to earlier reports, the interview with the whistleblower will be conducted by Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke and legal director Marco ­Villinger. The identity of the whistleblower could not be clarified with Blatter or Valcke as they were not available for one-on-one interviews.

But British journalists at the press conference said it was likely to be the former head of ­England’s bid and the English FA’s Lord David Triesman.

One of the allegations levelled against Fifa members by one of the whistleblowers was that ­Nigerian Fifa member Amos ­Adamu had agreed to the cash-for-votes deal with Qatar, only to be suspended for the vote.

The whistleblower also claimed that Fifa executive members Issa Hayatou, who is the Caf president, and Jacques ­Anouma of Ivory Coast, were paid $1.5m (about R10.35 million) to vote for Qatar, which beat the United States, among other candidates.

The 75-year-old Blatter was in Johannesburg on a charm ­offensive ahead of the vote for the Fifa president position on June 5 in Zurich.

He met with 37 national football associations’ presidents out of the 53 Caf member associations to be ­updated for the 2010 Fifa World Cup legacy on the continent.

They all pledged support for Blatter who comes up against one-time friend, the 61-year-old Qatari challenger Mohamed Bin Hammam. He announced his candidature in March.

This endorsement follows Monday’s decision by Caf to support Blatter following similar endorsements from Uefa’s executive committee, as well as the 11 members of Oceania and 10 from South America.

Blatter, first installed in power in 1998, seems on course to ­secure a fourth four-year term at the helm, as no confederation has come out publicly in ­support of Bin Hammam.

Blatter revealed that due to the success of the 2010 Fifa World Cup on South African soil which yielded a profit of $1.9 billion, all 208 member national associations had received an extra $550 000 each on top of the usual $250 000 grant.

He also revealed that he would propose at the Fifa Congress starting on June 1, that at least one woman should be voted for or co-opted onto the 24-member executive committee.

Blatter said he was disappointed that England had said they would not participate in the vote for the president.

“In a democratic organisation, you cannot force people. It is their democratic right but I am disappointed that the oldest and biggest football association can take such a stance,” he said.

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