RIO DE JANEIRO - Beleaguered FIFA President Sepp Blatter denied he ran FIFA like a dictatorship on
Wednesday but refused to make any comment on his former ally
Mohamed Bin Hammam, who was banned from football for life on
Saturday on corruption charges.
He also refused to answer criticism from Germany's
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge who said in an interview on Wednesday that
no-one believed Blatter when he said he was trying to clean up
Bin Hammam, who is planning to appeal the ruling by FIFA's
Ethics Committee, claimed in an interview at the weekend that
Blatter was a dictator who silenced anyone that opposed the way
he ran world football's governing body.
The 75-year-old Swiss also came under attack from former
international player Rummenigge, now the president of the
influential European Clubs Association (ECA) who told The
Guardian newspaper that the time had come to change FIFA's
Blatter, in Rio for Saturday's preliminary round draw for
the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil, refused to comment on what
either Bin Hammam or Rummenigge had said.
However, at the end of a long, rambling answer justifying
how transparent FIFA was, he was asked about his old friendship
with Bin Hammam, who was going to run against Blatter for the
FIFA presidency on June 1, before withdrawing his candidature
after being accused of bribery charges.
Those charges were upheld by the Ethics Committee on
Saturday who banned him from football for life.
The friendship between the two men during Blatter's election
campaigns of 1998 and 2002 is well documented, but they fell out
when Bin Hammam was preparing to challenge Blatter who went on
to win a fourth term as president unopposed on June 1.
Blatter said: "I am not alone, I am not a dictator as has
been said, I am not alone, I work with my executive committee,
with my administration, and with a lot of advisors.
"They know what it means to have transparency on one side,
and anti-corruption on the other side. Do not forget that in
FIFA we have 300 million people who work directly in football
and in 300 million you cannot have only good people.
"But I will not make any comments on the decisions of the ethics committee, and the follow-up by the media, and I ask you
to understand my situation and let FIFA work in compliance with
the strong demand of the FIFA Congress to go forward."
Blatter was also asked to comment on Rummenigge's comments
on Wednesday that no-one should believe a thing Blatter said.
Rummenigge told The Guardian: "Sepp Blatter is saying he is
cleaning up the game, but the fact that no-one believes him,
tells you everything you need to know.
"I'm not optimistic because they believe the system is
working perfectly as it is. It is a money-machine. It is a nice
game but it is decided by people who are corrupt. I am not ready
to accept the system as it is and I am not alone."
Blatter, however, refused to be drawn into a debate about
what Rummenigge had said.
Asked in the news conference to comment, Blatter said: "Go
back to him and ask him what he means. I will not make any
comment on what he has said."
FIFA has been in the spotlight for months over bribery and
corruption charges with nine members of FIFA's executive either
being accused or found guilty of corruption recently.
Before the election last month, Blatter denied FIFA was
facing any crisis in its management, but has since signalled
plans to form what he has called the "Solutions Committee."
This would consist of outsiders like former U.S. politician
Henry Kissinger, opera singer Placido Domingo and former Dutch
great Johan Cruyff to help monitor FIFA's actions from an
unbiased, external viewpoint.
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