Blatter hits back at detractors

Blatter hits back at detractors

FIFA President Sepp Blatter hit back at critics of football’s governing body ahead of its annual congress on Tuesday claiming that racism is behind corruption accusations against Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid.

The accusations that Qatar paid for votes when FIFA chose Qatar in 2020 will be discussed at the two-day Congress, the embattled 78-year-old Swiss official said.The growing scandal has threatened to taint the opening of the latest World Cup in Sao Paulo on Thursday.

FIFA faces mounting pressure as five of its six major sponsors have called for a thorough investigation of the allegations largely made by the British media.

Blatter, who is set to tell the Congress that he will stand for a fifth four-year term, told a meeting of the African Football Confederation (CAF) that there were sinister motivations behind the campaign.

Blatter hit out at the “storm against FIFA” over the 2022 World Cup and the “discrimination and racism” at the heart of the attacks. He said the allegations “really make me sad”.

CAF members — who along with their long-time president Issa Hayatou have been accused in British media of accepting Qatar’s money — gave Blatter a rousing reception and also slammed the allegations.

“(CAF) condemns the strategy of using African sport movements and its leaders as scapegoats by those who are trying, at all costs, to acquire a good conscience for themselves,” it said in a statement.

CAF “expresses its gratitude to FIFA president Mr Joseph S Blatter, for his continuous involvement in the development of football in Africa and his personal commitment in the fight against racism.”

Blatter was equally defiant at the Asian Football Confederation adding that “I still have the fire inside” to lead FIFA.

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