Blatter pledges reform but blasts critics

ZURICH - FIFA president Sepp Blatter has described corruption allegations against the wealthy governing body as being partly motivated by envy, while promising to tackle the root of the problem from day one if he wins re-election.

FIFA has been scarred by allegations surrounding the process to choose the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts, won by Russia and Qatar respectively.

Blatter said he was ready to confront the past if successful in the June 1 vote, when Asian football chief Mohamed Bin Hammam is standing against him, but he also said FIFA was a victim of its own success since he became president in 1998.

"We shall find a solution how to handle the past - how to handle the past in order that we can stop once and for ever that all these image damaging things about corruption," Blatter told a round table of news agency reporters at FIFA headquarters, in comments embargoed until Monday.

"Handling the past will be presented to the Congress.

"We have to make sure that in the next term of office, starting immediately after the election, that we rebuild the image of FIFA not only by a better communication... but by facts.

"There will be facts. Don't ask me now which facts."

Blatter said that FIFA, which he described as not rich but in a comfortable financial situation, had over $1 billion in reserves.

"If we were still the poor association we were until the World Cup in France - because France was the last poor World Cup - nobody would care," he said.

"There would be no financial assistance programmes, no referees' assistance programmes, no goal projects, no management, nothing. There would be nothing.

"But I think also, there would be no discussion of allegations of corruption. It's only when you have success."

"What is the attraction of success? To be part of it, or to be jealous of it. So you try to be in. If you cannot be in, you are jealous, you are envious and this can be changed into hatred and then, you see, there are people who to like to destroy something."

The allegations of corruption and lack of transparency have dogged FIFA throughout the campaign.

Two members of FIFA's Executive Committee were banned from all football-related activity last November for allegedly offering to sell their votes to undercover newspaper reporters.

Earlier this month, a British parliamentary inquiry into why England failed to secure the 2018 finals was told by member of parliament Damian Collins there was evidence from the Sunday Times newspaper that Issa Hayatou of Cameroon and Jacques Anouma of Ivory Coast were paid by Qatar.

Qatar have categorically denied the allegations as have Hayatou and Anouma.

"It hurts me," said Blatter of the criticism.

"I can tell you, if you go in depth into the clubs, in the youth organisations, in the professional and amateur leagues everywhere and the organisation of football in the 208 national associations, the contact they have with their public...is generally a good contact.

"We have realised there are people in FIFA (who) do not deserve to be there, especially in the government of FIFA," added Blatter, who for the second time this month distanced himself from his executive committee.

"I have no influence and I cannot take any responsibility. They have their own character and own conscience," he said.

"I cannot respond for the others."

He suggested the story would be different if the FIFA Congress, rather than the regional confederations, chose the 24-man executive committee.

"The government of FIFA is elected by the confederations and they have their own agendas, and it is very difficult to bring everybody together."

Weighing up his own 13 years at the helm, the Swiss said any mistakes he had made were the result of hard work.

"If I am looking at the results of what I have done I have to say... that it is more positive than negative.

"Those who work hard make more mistakes than those who work less.

"There is a saying especially when it comes to political administration that those who are promoted at the end of the year are those who have made no mistakes and those who have made no mistakes are those who haven't worked."


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