SAO PAULO: FIFA president Sepp Blatter has rehearsed the words on which he will lean when he is taxed by the world’s media next week over the latest Qatar 2022 controversy.
Blatter, after emerging from a meeting with the World Cup’s local organising committee, was asked for his reaction to the allegations of corruption in the bidding process focused on former Asian confederation Mohamed Bin Hammam.
The Qatari had reportedly paid around $5m to senior football officials in Africa and the Caribbean in the run-up to the World Cup host vote in December 2010.
For the past two years the issue has been the subject of review by Michael Garcia, the New York-based attorney and former Interpol vice-president who is FIFA’s independent ethics investigator. Garcia has said his report will be completed by mid-July.
Blatter, president of FIFA since 1998, responded: “The only thing I can say to the Qataris is that in March this year we said we don’t put the World Cup in Qatar into question and we are waiting the result of the investigation. I am not a prophet, so we await the results and see what happens.”
The 78-year-old Swiss, who is expected to confirm next week during Congress his readiness to stand again for a fifth term as president, also refused to take a stand on outstanding issues of the reform process. These concern the failure to achieve a consensus on the introduction of term and/or age limits.
Blatter said the executive committee meeting scheduled for Saturday and Sunday in Sao Paulo might vote on the issue to come up with a recommendation to Congress.