Sepp Blatter has issued a defiant defence of his tenure as FIFA president, insisting he is “definitely not” responsible for a perceived culture of corruption.
Blatter was elected for a fifth term as president on Friday, beating off the challenge of rival candidate Prince Ali bin Al Hussein to remain at the helm of world football’s governing body.
The election took place against a backdrop of controversy, following news on Wednesday that nine FIFA officials, past and present, were among 14 people indicted on charges of racketeering, conspiracy and corruption by United States authorities.
Yet when asked at a news conference if he had helped foster a culture of corruption, Blatter responded: “Definitely not. We try, always, and in my tenure of office during these years to eliminate all these elements. If you go backwards, you will see how many members have left FIFA, either by themselves or they have been investigated by our committees.”
Asked directly whether he was responsible for a $10million bribe, which the United States Department of Justice alleges was transferred from a FIFA account to one controlled by (former FIFA vice-president) Jack Warner in 2008, the 79-year-old said: “If such a thing is somewhere in investigations, let the investigation go. Definitely, that’s not me.
“I have no concerns, I especially have no concerns about my person.”
Blatter faced opposition from UEFA in the build-up to his re-election, with Michel Platini – president of European football’s governing body – calling on him to resign.
The Swiss was critical of Platini in an earlier interview with television station RTS, in which he said: “I forgive everyone, but I do not forget.”
Yet Blatter played down talk of a potential UEFA boycott of the World Cup, adding: “UEFA is part of FIFA. They need FIFA, and FIFA needs UEFA.”
Questioned on why he had not felt it appropriate to resign, Blatter said: “It’s very easy. You have seen the results of this congress yesterday. They are of the opinion that I am still the man to solve these problems.”
And in a swipe at FA vice-chairman David Gill, who declined to take up his seat on FIFA’s executive committee, Blatter said: “You can’t take responsibility when you are elected and don’t come to the first meeting.
“I don’t know exactly what are the projects of Mr David Gill – he was not present today. He has given no excuse.”
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