Blatter ‘shocked’ by US action against FIFA
The newly re-elected leader of FIFA Sepp Blatter has said he’s shocked at the way the US targeted football’s world governing body, adding the arrest of its officials and calls for his resignation is “no coincidence.”
On Friday, 79-year-old Blatter won his fifth presidential term at FIFA after his opponent, Jordan’s Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, withdrew before the voting went into the second round.
In an interview on Saturday with Swiss television RTS, Blatter also condemned what he called a “hate”campaign waged against him by Europe’s football leaders.
The FIFA chief slammed comments made by the US judiciary on the world football body. “Of course I am shocked. I would never as FIFA president make comments about another organization without being certain of what has happened.”
Blatter believes the arrest of seven FIFA officials and calls for resignation from UEFA chief Michel Platini just two days before the election is “no coincidence.”
“There are signs that do not lie: Americans were candidates for the World Cup 2022 and they lost [it]. If Americans have to deal with money or criminal offences which involve northern or South American citizens, they stop them there, but not in Zurich while there’s a congress,” lamented the freshly re-elected president.
He stressed there are US interests behind the candidacy of his Jordanian rival. “Let us not forget that they are the number one sponsor of the Hashemite Kingdom – so of my opponent. This doesn’t feel good.”
A massive corruption scandal at FIFA prompted a wave of accusations against Blatter, who was held responsible for what was happening on his watch. On Thursday, the head of UEFA, Michel Platini called for his resignation, saying, “people don’t need a president like Blatter.”
“It is a hate that comes not just from a person at UEFA, it comes from the UEFA organization that cannot understand that in 1998 I became president,” he said in the latest interview.
Asked whether he would forgive Platini for the resignation calls, Blatter said: “I forgive everyone, but I do not forget.”
Fourteen FIFA officials and businessmen have been accused by the US of bribery, fraud and money laundering. Several were arrested in a Zurich hotel where they had gathered ahead of Friday’s summit. Swiss prosecutors are also investigating the awarding of the World Cups 2018 and 2022 to Russia and Qatar, respectively, to ascertain whether the vote was clean and legal.
Now here’s the distorted view from the MSM.
Sepp Blatter: Europe’s ‘hate’ campaign against Fifa
Fifa president Sepp Blatter has condemned what he described as a “hate” campaign against football’s world governing body by European officials.
And he said he was “shocked” by the comments of US prosecutors following the arrests of Fifa officials under an American anti-corruption warrant.
The 79-year-old Swiss was re-elected on Friday at a Fifa congress in Zurich.
European football governing body Uefa’s president Michel Platini had urged Mr Blatter to step down ahead of the vote.
Mr Blatter’s rival, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, forced a second round of voting on Friday but then withdrew. Mr Blatter won 133 to Prince Ali’s 73 in the first round, just short of the 140 votes needed for an outright win.
‘I forgive everyone’
On Wednesday, US prosecutors indicted 14 Fifa officials and associates, with seven arrested in a dawn raid at an upmarket hotel in Zurich. They are accused of bribery, racketeering and money-laundering involving tens of millions of dollars since 1991.
Meanwhile, Swiss authorities launched a separate criminal investigation into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments to Russia and Qatar.
At the scene: Imogen Foulkes, BBC News, Zurich
Sepp Blatter was brimming with confidence after his election for a fifth term as Fifa present.
Asked about damage to Fifa’s image because of the many allegations of corruption, he blamed the media for exaggerating the crisis, saying Fifa remained well regarded, most especially in Asia and Africa.
Responding to criticism of his personal leadership, he said: “I’ve just been elected tor a fifth term, there can’t be that much wrong with me.”
But beneath the ebullience, Fifa and its president have a lot of work to do. European football associations, who had demanded Mr Blatter’s resignation, are still considering their response to his re-election.
And Fifa and its officials now face two major international investigations into corruption and bribery. US and Swiss prosecutors have suggested there may be more arrests to come.
Spelling out details of the US case earlier this week, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said: “They corrupted the business of worldwide soccer to serve their interests and to enrich themselves.”
Ahead of Mr Blatter’s comments on Saturday, US tax official Richard Weber told the New York Times he was “fairly confident that we will have another round of indictments”.
He noted that the US had lost out in the bidding for the 2022 World Cup to Qatar while England, another major critic, had lost out to Russia for the right to hold the 2018 World Cup – and that the US was the “number-one sponsor” of the state of Jordan, the homeland of defeated challenger for the Fifa presidency.
He also condemned the comments made by Ms Lynch and other US prosecutors, one of whom referred to a “World Cup of fraud”.
Mr Blatter said: “Of course I am shocked. I would never as Fifa president make comments about another organisation without being certain of what has happened.”
Mr Blatter was widely supported in Africa and Asia, and his re-election was welcomed by the hosts of the next World Cup, Russia.
However, many European football associations have reacted with concern to Mr Blatter’s re-election.
Uefa had backed Prince Ali, with Mr Platini describing his candidacy as “a movement for change at Fifa”.
In an apparent reference to Mr Platini’s call for him to resign, Mr Blatter said: “It is a hate that comes not just from a person at Uefa, it comes from the Uefa organisation that cannot understand that in 1998 I became president.”
Asked whether he would forgive Mr Platini for the calling on him to step down, Mr Blatter said: “I forgive everyone, but I do not forget.”
European football associations will meet at next week’s Champions League final in Berlin to discuss their next move.
“We have to see how best we can use the European muscle,” Irish FA president John Delaney told RTE News.
Sepp Blatter in his own words:
“I am the president now, the president of everybody” – on his re-election for a fifth term in office
“The unity of action and time, a classic tragedy of Greece in which we never know how it will end” – his description of football
“I’d say they should refrain from any sexual activities” – when asked if he foresaw any cultural problems for gay people at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar (apparently this was a joke)
“This is a special approach in the Anglo-Saxon countries. If this had happened in, let’s say, Latin countries then I think he would have been applauded” – on John Terry’s removal as England team captain following an alleged affair in 2010
“I could understand it if it had happened in Africa, but not in Italy” – on the 2006 match-fixing scandal in Italy
“I think in football there’s too much modern slavery in transferring players or buying players, and putting them somewhere” – on Cristiano Ronaldo’s transfer from Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2008
“They could, for example, have tighter shorts. Female players are pretty, if you excuse me for saying so, and they already have some different rules to men – such as playing with a lighter ball. That decision was taken to create a more female aesthetic, so why not do it in fashion?” – on women’s football, in 2004
Europe’s seat at the next meeting of Fifa’s powerful executive committee is expected to be empty, as newly appointed representative David Gill had said before Friday’s vote that he would resign if Mr Blatter was re-elected.
England’s FA chairman Greg Dyke said that he would consider a boycott of the World Cup if joined by other European nations.
“This is not over by any means. To quote the [US] attorney general this is the beginning of the process not the end,” Mr Dyke said.
Meanwhile, Jesper Moller of Denmark’s FA told reporters: “Blatter is too involved in all the allegations of corruption that have taken up much of his time as president. But we must, of course, respect the democratic vote.”