rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » Sports » FIFA chief Blatter undeterred despite facing opposition

FIFA chief Blatter undeterred despite facing opposition

June 12, 2014 12:49 IST

FIFA chief Blatter undeterred despite facing opposition

     Next

Next

FIFA president Sepp Blatter on Wednesday all but confirmed he would run for re-election despite criticism the game and organisation have been tarnished by accusations of corruption during his long reign.

World soccer's governing body is reeling after allegations in Britain's Sunday Times that a former top FIFA representative made payments to officials as part of a campaign to win support for Qatar's successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup.

Yet Blatter, who has led FIFA for 16 years, made no direct reference to the scandal throughout Wednesday's annual Congress, and instead pressed his case to extend his tenure.

"My mission is not finished," he told officials from FIFA's 209 member associations at the close of Congress, held in Sao Paulo on the eve of the opening game of Brazil's 2014 World Cup.

"Congress, you will decide who will take this great institution forward, but I can tell you I am ready to accompany you in the future," he added.

Blatter, who ignored calls made this week by European countries not to run again in next year's FIFA election, enjoys the support of enough delegates to have his way even if he will not be unopposed.

Former FIFA Deputy Secretary General Jerome Champagne, who announced his candidacy for the top job last year, later said in a statement he was looking forward to an open debate about the issues facing the game ahead of the vote.

"No one should fear this open discussion in front of the people of football, which would honour those organising and conducting it," it read.

"As a consequence, I am very much looking forward to the debate in front of us, a debate even more necessary after the events having unfolded in the past weeks."


Image: FIFA President Sepp Blatter
Photographs: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

     Next

'We are confident we will have full access to whatever else may be in that data set'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

Earlier at the Congress, the lawyer investigating allegations of corruption surrounding FIFA said he would leave no stone unturned in a bid to dispel concerns that the probe would not take into account key evidence that recently came to light.

Michael Garcia handed in a report this week on the findings from nearly two years of work, but told FIFA delegates it did not signal the end of his investigation.

The Sunday Times newspaper reported recently that some of the "millions of documents" it had seen linked payments by former FIFA executive committee member Mohamed Bin Hammam to officials to win backing for Qatar's World Cup bid.

Bin Hammam has not commented on his involvement since he was banned for life from soccer in 2012, while Qataris working on the project say he was not a part of their official bid.

Garcia said he and his team already had access to the "vast majority" of those documents, and hoped to see the rest soon.

"We have gone to what appears to us to be the original source of that data and we are confident we will have full access to whatever else may be in that data set and we will review that data for anything else relevant prior to issuing any final report," he told FIFA.

Garcia added that his team would consider any fresh material provided to them, but would not delay the publication of the final report indefinitely.

He is due to submit it to German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, head of the Ethics Committee's adjudicatory chamber, in about six weeks and, if he finds corruption, Qatar could be stripped of the Cup, or at least face a challenge to its position as host either through a re-vote or other processes.


Image: The logo of soccer's international governing body FIFA is seen on its headquarters in Zurich
Photographs: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

Prev     Next

'Most disrespectful thing I have experienced in my life'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

Allegations over Qatar's bid overshadowed the buildup to the World Cup, yet they were barely mentioned at FIFA's Congress.

Member associations and confederations were promised "extraordinary success premiums" after a profitable financial year, and Blatter even threw in a surprise in the form of a proposal to introduce radical new rules to the game.

While only an informal suggestion at this stage, he proposed allowing managers to appeal against refereeing decisions up to twice each game, using video footage to settle the issue.

The mood at this year's Congress has been unusually subdued, with statements from regional groupings underlining deep divisions in an organisation that controls the world's most popular sport and billions of dollars in advertising revenues and television rights.

Senior soccer officials from Europe, concerned that FIFA's image was being irrevocably damaged by scandals that have dogged it for years, told Blatter bluntly that he should not run again.

"This (election) period has not yet started and I have to accept some number of blows," Blatter told reporters after the meeting.

"This has been the most disrespectful thing I have experienced in my whole life."

He declined to comment on remarks by David Triesman, former head of English soccer's governing body, who told the upper house of Britain's parliament that FIFA was corrupt and any investigations it conducted into itself were cover-ups.


Image: FIFA President Sepp Blatter is seen on a large screen as he delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the 65th FIFA Congress in Sao Paulo on Wednesday
Photographs: Paulo Whitaker/Reuters

Prev     Next

'FIFA behaves like a mafia family'

Prev     
Prev

"FIFA, I'm afraid, behaves like a mafia family. It has a decades-long tradition of bribes, bungs and corruption," said Triesman. A FIFA spokesman declined to comment on the remarks.

The peer was for a while in charge of England's unsuccessful bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

As European soccer lined up against Blatter, he won overwhelming support during meetings with delegates from Africa, Asia, Oceania and beyond, suggesting that he would comfortably win an election should he decide to take part.

Underlining the anger at this year's Congress over the Qatar allegations, the head of the Congolese Football Association attacked what he said was "a calumnious campaign against African football".

Omari Selemani also played down the role of African nations in voting to hold the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The "ignorant" British media has led the attacks on Qatar, he said in a speech days after the Sunday Times published the second in a series of reports putting African soccer bosses at the centre of bribery allegations to secure the 2022 tournament for the tiny Gulf nation.

The rows over Qatar and Blatter's future have diverted much of FIFA's attention away from the Brazil World Cup, which opens on Thursday with the hosts taking on Croatia.

Nothing but a win will do for a country that many people consider the spiritual home of soccer, and victory on the pitch might generate more excitement off it after a surprisingly subdued buildup to the tournament.


Image: FIFA headquarters
Photographs: Harold Cunningham/Getty Images

Prev     
Source:
© Copyright 2013 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.