UNDER-FIRE Fifa president Sepp Blatter insists talk of the world governing body being in crisis is far fetched and vowed that only “the Fifa family” could prevent him being re-elected unopposed tomorrow.
On another extraordinary day of accusations and counter claims involving some of Fifa’s most influential figures Blatter, seeking a fourth consecutive term in power, stood firm and intends to press ahead with tomorrow’s election in which he will stand unopposed.
Blatter’s bullish comments came hours after Qatar threatened legal action against Fifa’s secretary general and chief ally of Blatter, Jerome Valcke, for suggesting it had bought the right to host the 2022 World Cup.
Asked about Fifa facing a crisis, Blatter said: “Crisis? What is a crisis? Football is not in a crisis.
“If you see the final match of the Champions League you must applaud. We are not in a crisis we are only in some difficulties and these will be solved inside our family.”
In the last month there have been allegations in the British Parliament that Qatar paid for the World Cup, and from ex-Football Association chairman Lord Triesman that four other Fifa members asked for cash or favours in return for supporting England’s 2018 World Cup bid.
Blatter said, however, that he was not aware of any evidence to back up the claims, while Valcke insisted he was not accusing the 2022 bid of any skulduggery.
“I believe that the decision which we took for the World Cup 2022 was done exactly in the same pattern and environment as we have made on the World Cup 2018,” said Blatter. “And there was no problem for the Fifa executive committee to act in this direction, there is no issue for the World Cup 2022.”
Valcke, meanwhile, confirmed that he sent an email suggesting the 2022 World Cup was “bought” but maintained he was referring to Qatar using their “financial strength” to legitimately secure support for their bid.
The message had been sent to Fifa vice-president Jack Warner about former presidential candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam, and the Fifa vice-president from Trinidad made it public in response to his ban, which is pending a full investigation.
“When I refer to the 2022 World Cup in that email, what I wanted to say is that the winning bid used their financial strength to lobby for support,” said Valcke, attempting to clarify his remarks.
“I have at no time made, or was intending to make, any reference to any purchase of votes or similar unethical behaviour.” On Valcke’s explanation, Blatter added: “I don’t answer that question and I ask for your understanding,” he said.
“You have received the Fifa general secretary statement. I am the president; I am only here to talk about the president.”
Sports minister Hugh Robertson has called for the election to be postponed after Bin Hammam pulled out, but the reigning president said Fifa would solve their problems on their own.
Blatter added: “If the governments try to intervene in Fifa’s organisation then something is wrong.
“Fifa is strong enough that we can deal with our problems inside Fifa and I am sure the Congress will show its unity and solidarity and solve the problems.”