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Crisis? There is no crisis, says FIFA president

posted 30 May 2011, 13:42 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 30 May 2011, 13:45 ]

Combative Blatter rejects talk of crisis as FIFA moves to neutralise leaked email and Qatar denies wrongdoing over 2022 World Cup bid.

A combative Sepp Blatter on Monday (May 30) began a week in which he will be re-elected FIFA president by rejecting talk of crisis in soccer as the ruling body moved to neutralise a leaked email suggesting Qatar had bought the 2022 World Cup.

In a 30-minute news conference which started and finished in confrontation with reporters, Blatter denied soccer's governing body was in crisis and his organisation would solve any "difficulties" internally and that there were no issues with the 2018 or 2022 World Cups.

"Crisis, what is a crisis?" said Blatter, who is due to stand unopposed for a fourth term as president on Wednesday (June 1) after his Qatari opponent Mohamed Bin

Hammam withdrew on Sunday amid cash-for-votes allegations.

"We have just seen a beautiful Champions League final with Barcelona, with fair play. "Football is in some difficulties and they will be solved inside our family."

FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke issued a statement on Monday denying he meant to suggest anything corrupt about the Qatar bid for 2022.

The Gulf nation received further support from Blatter at his dramatic evening news conference, with the president saying FIFA had received no evidence that there were issues with the process to choose the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

"I believe the decision that we took for the World Cup 2022 was done exactly in the same pattern and in the same environment we have made the decision on the 2018 and there was no problem for FIFA, FIFA's executive committee to act in this direction. And again, I said what I have said at the beginning of this press conference. There is no issue for the World Cup 2022," Blatter said.

While all the talk outside FIFA House has been of a drip-feed of corruption allegations creating the worst crisis the game has faced, Blatter said his organisation was merely experiencing local difficulties they could solve internally.

It did not feel that way earlier in the day when CONCACAF president Jack Warner made public an email in which Valcke wondered if Mohamed bin Hammam, who planned to stand against Blatter, thought he could buy the presidency as Qatar "bought" the World Cup.

Qatar issued a flat denial of any wrongdoing and Valcke later said he only meant that the Gulf state's financial muscle meant they were able to mount an effective lobbying campaign.

Blatter refused to answer if his General Secretary was overstepping his duties.

"I do not answer this question and I ask you for understanding. You have received FIFA's general secretary statement. We are to come back later inside the FIFA on that so sorry but I am president of FIFA and you can ask question on me, my person," he said.

Blatter, the 75-year-old Swiss who has run soccer's world governing body since 1998 and seen it grow wealthy on the sale of TV rights and sponsorship, will run unopposed in Wednesday's election following Bin Hammam's withdrawal on Sunday.

That came hours before the Qatari was suspended along with Warner over an allegation that Bin Hammam paid Caribbean delegates $40,000 to vote for him instead of Blatter.

Blatter said he regretted the recent "damaging" allegations but said the problems could be solved in-house.

"We have not even problems until 1998 because this the so-called very modest FIFA. And now we are a comfortable FIFA and I think because we are too comfortable, some people like that they are too comfortable and with such a situation and being in a game then everything, all the little devils can enter the game and we have to fight against these devils," he said.

Turning to other allegations, Blatter said there was no case to answer against four FIFA executive

committee members accused of corruption during a British parliamentary hearing this month.

Blatter also said there had been no evidence from the Sunday Times newspaper over a claim that Issa Hayatou and Jacques Anouma had been paid to vote for Qatar's 2022 World Cup bid.

Blatter ended the news conference complaining with a reporter who still wanted to make a question and berating the media for a lack of manners.