FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said people are trying to destroy football’s global governing body, claiming attacks on World Cup 2022 host Qatar are motivated by racism and discrimination.
Blatter was speaking on Monday night in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo, where several football bodies are meeting ahead of this year’s World Cup tournament, which starts on Thursday.
In remarks to delegates from the Confederation of African Football (CAF), he said critics of Qatar 2022 were motivated by “racism and discrimination”, the AFP news agency reported.
“Once again there is a sort of storm against FIFA relating to the Qatar World Cup. Sadly there’s a great deal of discrimination and racism and this hurts me.”
The CAF accused British media outlets of waging a “hateful, defamatory and degrading” campaign against “the entire African continent”.
In separate remarks to the Asian Football Confederation, Blatter said: “Show unity and confirm this unity, it’s the best way to reply to all the destructors in the world. They want to destroy, not the game, but they want to destroy the institution, because our institution is too strong.”
FIFA and Qatar have come under intense pressure following reports in the British newspaper, The Sunday Times, that a Qatari actively aided the country’s bid to host the tournament by using royal connections and the country’s energy wealth to influence FIFA members.
The Qatar 2022 committee said last Sunday that it stood by a statement last week denying any wrongdoing and insisted that Mohamed Bin Hammam, the official at the centre of the claims, “played no official or unofficial role in Qatar’s 2022 bid committee”.
It said: “Qatar has won the bid on its merit and we are confident that at the end of the appropriate process, the award of
the 2022 World Cup to Qatar will stand.”
Blatter said last November that it was not possible to reverse the decision to award the Gulf nation the prestigious tournament, but event sponsors have called for an investigation into corruption allegations.
FIFA’s annual meeting takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday in Sao Paulo. Blatter is expected to make a fifth bid for the body’s presidency, a post he has held since June 1998.