KEIR RADNEDGE in SAO PAULO —- Unmasked anger erupted within the leadership of the world game here today over the ongoing fall-out from the Qatar 2022 controversy.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter vehemently defended the world federation against those intent on “destroying us” while African associations approve a resolution attacking the “repeated, deliberately hateful, defamatory and degrading attacks” of the British media.
Blatter, who presides over FIFA Congress tomorrow and Thursday and then intends to stand for re-election next year, lit the fuse of fury in addressing extraordinary congresses of the both the African and Asian confederations (CAF and AFC).
Starting with the African confederation, Blatter denounced a “storm against FIFA” over the scandal-hit awards of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and perceived “discrimination and racism” at the root of criticism which “really make me sad.”
Moving on to the AFC, Blatter urged them to “show unity in FIFA and confirm this unity – it is the best way to say to all those who would want to destroy, not the game, but they want to destroy the institution . . . because our institution is too strong and is so strong we are sure they will not destroy it.”
Blatter was given a standing ovation after again making clear his intention to stand for re-election for a fifth term at the head of world football.
The World Cup award to Qatar in particular by FIFA’s executive committee in December 2010 was always controversial. The issue has been reignited by corruption claims in The Sunday Times over the covert activities of the then Asian president, Mohamed Bin Hammam.
He had used a $5m slush fund, according to the newspaper, to generate support for Qatar and his own FIFA presidential bid among senior officials in African and Caribbean football.
Blatter’s own attack on FIFA critics was taken up by the African associations in a counter-attacking resolution which which included gushing support for both Blatter and its own president, Issa Hayatou.
The resolution stated:
“Considering the repeated, deliberately hateful, defamatory and degrading attacs by some media, notably British, on the image and integrity of the Confederation of African Football, its president, its members, its member associations and the entire African continent;
“considering the persistent manipulation aimed at portraying to the international communuity that Africa played a preponderant role in voting the candidatures of qtara 2022, while it was done by a majority vote of hte FIFA executive committee, out of which africa only had three representatives among 22 at the time of taking the vote;
“considering further the manifested bad faith and deep ignorance of the functioning of FIFA’s organs by the british media, which presents African countries as benefactors of the goodwill gestures of the FIFA Goal project that funds development schemes in the 209 member associations of FIFA on the basi of identifical criteria;
“condemns the strategy of using African sport movements and its leaders as scapegoats by those who are trying, at all costs, to acquire a good conscience for themselves;
“declares, in unanimity, its total and unreserved support to all wrongfully incrimated Africans and to the president of CAF, Mr Issa Hayatou, whose transparent and distinguished leadership has brought about an envious transformation of African football;
“urges the executive committee of CAF to file a law suit, if necessary, so that the authors of this smearing and defamatory campaign against African football are brought to book;
“expresses its gratitude to FIFA president Mr Joseph S Blatter, for his continuous involenment in the devlopment of football in Africa and his personal commitment in the fight against racism.”
Four of FIFA’s six major World Cup sponsors have expressed concern about the latest allegations.
The 2018/2022 World Cup bid process has been the subject of a two-year inquiry by independent ethics investigator Michael Garcia. He completed his inquiry today and his report will go to German Judge Hans-Joachim Eckert in mid-July.
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