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Blatter admits to image loss for FIFA but will not resign

sports Updated: Dec 09, 2010 13:28 IST

IANS
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The president of football's governing body FIFA Sepp Blatter on Wednesday defended FIFA's expansion policy, said he would not resign, but admitted that the organization had suffered a serious image-loss.

After being heavily criticized for awarding the right to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals together, it was time to "look closely at everything," Blatter told the Swiss magazine Die Weltwoche.

"An examination needs to come now. We can not continue like this. We have to improve our image."

He said that he would not step down. "Me and resignation? My father would come back to earth and read me the riot act."

Some of his critics have called for a new president, but the 74-year-old has dismissed them.

"Then they should tell that to the 208 national associations. And why a new president? Just because a few journalists write that there should be a new president. I say: Never change a winning team."

Even if Blatter dismisses all corruption allegations as nonsense and stale news, he said: "We need to do something within FIFA."

The first step he has planned is to introduce a Task Force that will look into clean administration.

He said that FIFA had nothing to hide. "We are the only international sports organization, non-governmental organisations included, that allows its books to be checked reliably since I am the president.

"It would not be possible to cheat as everything is controlled."

The heavy criticism that FIFA had to endure after awarding the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 finals to Qatar has not passed him by.

"I am still sleeping well, but it does not simply go away. If a FIFA president is continuously questioned it is not a nice thing," he admitted.

"I do not need a bullet-proof vest, over the years I have managed to build a protective barrier around me." He again said he would not step down, even though his family was being affected by the negative image.

Blatter believes his mission has not yet finishes. "We are taking world football in the right direction. It is my philosophy to continue with the expansion of football."

He stressed that he was not interested in money or power, but rather in ensuring that the game is taken to countries that are not traditionally footballing countries.

Blatter said he was a bit surprised about all the criticism after the announcement of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts, especially the criticism from Europe.

"Some of the reactions have shown some of their arrogance."

The Swiss national dismissed concerns that traditional footballing countries would have no chance in being awarded the World Cup. "But the next regions which we need to gain a foothold in are China and India."

Blatter, who likes to see himself as a visionary far beyond just footballing matters, said that he thought it was a good decision to award Qatar the World Cup.

"If you look a bit further and see the conflict between muslim and Christian countries, it is an extraordinary decision to award the World Cup to an Arab country."

The awarding of the World Cup has become a political thing, he said.

"Heads of state have worked the corridors with me, they flattered me. Football has become a monstrosity that needs to be tamed by FIFA. And we do what we can do.

Even though FIFA executive members Amos Adamu (Nigeria) and Reynald Temarii (Tahiti) have been suspended after contravening the ethical code, Blatter dismissed allegations that the executive could be bought.

"There are no rotten eggs", Blatter said and pointed to the changes regulations and the work of the ethical committee, which started operating in 2006.

"I say it unequivocally: There is no systematic corruption within FIFA. That is nonsense. That is just as much a projection as the allegations that I bought 30 votes 12 years ago.

"I can only say: FIFA is doing everythings in its power to sanction FIFA officials who do not stick to the rules."