I do not fear arrest, says Blatter

A defiant Blatter, who won his fifth term as FIFA president on Friday, has come out fighting against allegations.

Blatter got 133 out of the 206 votes cast on Friday [EPA]
Blatter got 133 out of the 206 votes cast on Friday [EPA]

Newly re-elected FIFA President Sepp Blatter does not fear being arrested and was typically defiant in his first news conference since a US investigation into corruption reportedly uncovered $150 million in bribes.

Seven high-ranking FIFA officials were arrested ahead of the football governing body’s meeting that saw Blatter win a fifth term as president.

The Swiss came out fighting on Saturday, implying that the US timed the announcement of a major corruption probe to try to scupper his re-election bid.

“Arrested for what? Next question,” Blatter dismissed curtly, when asked if he feared where the US federal case was heading.

There was a “high-ranking FIFA official” mentioned in the US indictment who wired $10m for apparent bribes to corrupt CONCACAF officials so they would vote for South Africa as the 2010 World Cup host.

“Definitely that is not me, I have no $10m.”

Blatter now faces the daunting task of restoring public faith in an organisation tainted by allegations of graft and deeply divided over his leadership.

“I have a great deal of responsibility to restore FIFA’s image,” he added.

World Cup quotas intact

Meanwhile, FIFA is keeping the continental quotas of World Cup qualifying places for two more tournaments – 2018 in Russia and 2022 in Qatar.

FIFA’s executive committee declined to make any changes at a meeting in Zurich, according to Blatter who had earlier encouraged other regions to seek more places, likely at Europe’s expense.

Platini (R) had asked Blatter to step down following the Zurich arrests [Reuters]

The decision means European football body UEFA keeps its 13 qualifying slots, plus host Russia, at the 32 team tournament in 2018.

Europe will have 13 teams at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Besides those places, Africa has five guaranteed spots, Asia and South America have four each, and there are three spots for the CONCACAF region of North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Two more places are decided in playoffs involving teams from Asia, CONCACAF, Oceania and South America.

The FIFA boss had earlier hit out at Michel Platini, the head of UEFA, who had called for Blatter’s resignation over the corruption scandals.

“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,” he said in an interview with Swiss television.

Asked whether he would forgive Platini for the resignation calls, Blatter said: “I forgive everyone but I do not forget”.

He also condemned comments on FIFA made by US judiciary leaders including Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

“Of course I am shocked. I would never, as FIFA president, make comments about another organisation without being certain of what has happened.”

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies


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