FIFA president, Sepp Blatter has declared himself battle ready against forces trying to destroy his legacy and that of the world governing body. “I am here to fight, not for myself but for FIFA. I am afraid people want to destroy FIFA, which is my product. Everybody has fears, for example of dying, but I have nothing to fear in view of my work at FIFA. I am not afraid,” Blatter declared in an interview with German newspaper, Welt am Sonntag, last weekend.
In the explosive chat, the 79-year -old Swiss claimed there were ‘political interventions’ from the presidents of France and Germany before voting for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. According to the embattled FIFA boss, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his German counterpart Christian Wulff sought to influence vote-makers before the two tournament hosts were announced in December 2010. “Before the World Cups were awarded to Russia and Qatar, there were two political interventions. Messrs Sarkozy and Wulff tried to influence their vote-makers. That is the reason why we now have a World Cup in Qatar. Those who decided this should also take the responsibility,” Blatter said.
Blatter further claimed that the German Football Association (DFB) also received instructions to vote for Qatar due to economic interests. “Just look at all the German companies – the Deutsche Bahn (German railways) Hochtief and many more all already had projects in Qatar before the World Cup was awarded there,” he alleged, absolving himself of blames in the corruption scandal.
“I act on the leadership principle. If a majority of the executive committee wants a World Cup in Qatar then I have to accept that,” he said.
Blatter, has equally dismissed speculations that he is planning to vie for FIFA presidency early next year contrary to his June 2 stand down. “It is not my intention to stand as a candidate again,” he said.
The FIFA president who failed to attend the 2015 women’s World Cup final in Canada last weekend due to fears he might be arrested by US authorities currently investigating the corruptible bidding process that took place during the award of the two tournaments, disclosed he would not travel out of his country until the coast clears. According him, his fears for arrest is “not because the Americans have anything concrete against me, but because it would cause a public stir”.
“Until everything has been cleared up, I am not going to take the risk of travelling. After the tsunami, I just need a bit of time to recover. I believe in what I am doing,” Blatter said.
By Olisemeka Obeche (with agency reports)