Blatter says "great damage" done to FIFA image, but no crisis
FIFA president Joseph Blatter said "great damage" done to its image by corruption allegations but indicated he would stand unopposed for a fourth term as head of football's ruling body at its congress on Wednesday.
Speaking Monday in Zurich after a meeting of the executive committee, Blatter denied football was in a crisis but "only in some difficulties" as a result of bribery allegations, DPA reported.
His comments came at a news conference at FIFA headquarters on a day of more allegations including a suggestion from FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke that Qatar had "bought" the 2022 World Cup.
Blatter would not comment of Valcke's email to suspended executive member Jack Warner in which the suggestion was made, saying Valcke had issued a statement on the matter.
"I believe the decision we took for the World Cup 2022 was done exactly in the same pattern and the same environment (on which) we made the decision on 2018, and there was no problem for the FIFA executive committee to act in this direction. There is no issue with the World Cup 2022," he said.
"I regret what has happened in the last few days and weeks," Blatter said.
"It has caused great damage to the image of FIFA and also lots of disappointment for football fans. I am speaking for the football fans."
Blatter also said governments should not intervene in FIFA issues, saying the ruling body was "strong enough to deal with problems inside FIFA and denied football was in a crisis.
"What is a crisis? Football is not in a crisis...we are only in some difficulties and the difficulties will be solved inside our family," he said.
Blatter said the executive committee had been pleased to receive a report from the English Football Association regarding allegations made earlier this month by former FA chief Lord Triesman at a parliamentary inquiry against four committee members.
"We were happy that we can confirm there are no elements in this report which would even prompt any proceedings," he said. A comprehensive summary of the report would be published "for the sake of transparency."
Neither had any evidence been received from Britain's Sunday Times or from any whistleblower within the Qatar 2022 World Cup bid on allegations made against two other members of the committee regarding bribes for World Cup votes.
"Therefore what shall we do with the elements of this report? Nothing, and the World Cup 2022 is not touched by that," he said.
Blatter gave every indication he intended to seek a fourth term as president of football's governing body.
Blatter is unopposed in the election following the withdrawal of Mohammed Bin Hamman. The Qatari has, along with Warner, since been provisionally suspended by the ethics committee pending an inquiry into bribery allegations .
"If somebody wants to change something in the election or in the congress of Wednesday these are the members of FIFA," Blatter said,
"This cannot be done by the executive committee. It is only the congress itself that can do it with three-quarters of a majority by changing the agenda."
Delegates at the congress have the opportunity "to restore the credibility of FIFA and restore it with me." It was up to congress to "decide whether I am a valid or non-valid candidate or a valid or non-valid president."