Saturday 22 September 2018

Sepp Blatter: If Russia and Qatar had not won World Cups, there would be no crisis

Sepp Blatter
Sepp Blatter

Sepp Blatter claimed that FIFA's crisis would not have happened if countries other than Russia and Qatar had won the vote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

In what appeared a reference to the United States and England losing out, Blatter called for unity from FIFA's 209 associations ahead of the presidential election where the 79-year-old is standing for a fifth term of office.

Most of the media investigations into FIFA have come from Britain, while it is the US justice authorities that sparked the current crisis with the seven arrests this week and indictments of 18 people, 13 of them football officials.

READ MORE: Paul Hyland: Bin lids and beat boxes - the weird world of Sepp Blatter

Blatter told FIFA's Congress in Zurich: "If two other countries had emerged from the envelope I think we may not have these problems. But we can't go back in time, we're not prophets, we can't say what would have happened."

READ MORE:  'Blatter must quit to save FIFA's credibility'

Russia president Vladimir Putin on Thursday criticised the American indictments and claimed they were designed to undermine Blatter's re-election as president - he is facing Prince Ali of Jordan in the vote later on Friday.

Blatter added of the police swoop which saw seven FIFA officials arrested in Zurich on Wednesday: "I am not going to use the word coincidence but I do have a small question mark."

Blatter admitted the events of this week "unleashed a storm" ahead but appealed to delegates for unity, and said there had been a question mark over whether the Congress taking place.

FIFA also announced that the post-Congress press conference will take place on Saturday morning.

Blatter said: "The events of this week unleashed a storm.

"It was even questioned whether this Congress would go ahead but I am appealing for unity and team spirit to tackle the problems that have been created and to solve them.

It will not be done in a single day, it will take some time.

"The important point today is to move ahead - and the important point is transparency. We have a problem to solve."

The meeting in Zurich was briefly disrupted by two protestors who unfurled a Palestinian flag - the Palestinian FA has demanded Israel be kicked out of FIFA - before they were removed by security.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Brazil's FIFA executive committee Marco Polo Del Nero left Switzerland ahead of the congress.

Del Nero's return to Brazil followed the arrest of Jose Maria Marin, his predecessor as Brazilian FA president.

Marin is one of seven FIFA officials who are facing extradition to the USA on corruption charges. A FIFA spokesperson confirmed it had been notified of Del Nero's departure.

It means four of the 25 FIFA ExCo members maybe absent from Saturday's meeting; Jeffrey Webb from Cayman Island and Eduardo Li from Costa Rica are under arrest, while England's David Gill has announced he will refuse to attend if Blatter is re-elected for a fifth term.

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