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Blatter launches impassioned defense of FIFA
The 75-year-old FIFA president, who is seeking re-election for a fourth term in a June 1 vote, said he had not received any evidence against six members of FIFA’s executive committee, who were last week accused of corruption in a vote to decide the World Cup hosts for 2018 and ‘22.
“I do not accept it when somebody in this room says that FIFA is a corrupt organization. I do not accept that,” Blatter said, raising his voice and hammering his fist on a table for emphasis. “FIFA is not a corrupt organization.
“If there is no proven evidence then it is not corruption. Our committee for ethics, they intervened in October in the matters of six people and they made the adequate investigation and the adequate decisions.”
Blatter’s visit included discussions of the possibility of a first female member of FIFA’s executive committee and the success of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The Swiss was regularly applauded by reporters as well as delegates after meeting with leaders from four of the five regional African soccer federations.
Blatter is being challenged by Qatar’s Mohamed bin Hammam, who was previously believed to have widespread support among Africa’s 53 national associations. However, the continent’s all-encompassing Confederation of African Football (CAF) has now publicly backed Blatter, who has headed FIFA since 1998.
Blatter, whose appearance at the two-day meeting in Johannesburg was at short notice, said he was not campaigning for votes.
The persistent corruption allegations, however, will ensure the focus leading up to the FIFA presidential vote in Zurich next month is on integrity.
The former chairman of England's Football Association, David Triesman, claimed last week during a British parliamentary inquiry that four FIFA executive committee members engaged in improper conduct during bidding for the 2018 World Cup.
Triesman told British lawmakers that FIFA executive committee members Jack Warner, Nicolas Leoz, Ricardo Teixeira and Worawi Makudi engaged in “improper and unethical” conduct by demanding bribes. All four have denied the claims.
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