ZURICH: Sepp Blatter has reiterated his insistence that financial misconduct by individual FIFA directors does not mean the world football federation itself is corrupt.

Blatter was speaking in an interview with BBC three months after his re-election U-turn and six months ahead of the extraordinary congress to vote in a successor next February 26.

Responding to the criticism that a culture of corruption had taken over FIFA during the 17 years of his leaderhip, Blatter said: “That’s not true, this has been created. The institution is not corrupt – there is no corruption in football.

“There is corruption with individuals, there is not a general organised corruption.

“It is with people. The institution FIFA is not corrupt. It’s not the institution. That’s why I can’t understand why the world’s media says FIFA is corrupt.”

Blatter announced his decision to retire only four days after his re-election at a congress in turmoil after the arrests two days earlier in Zurich of two FIFA vice-presidents and five other senior football figures.

Explaiing his U-turn, Blatter said: “I did it because I wanted to protect Fifa. I can protect myself. I am strong enough.

“I know what I have done, what I have not done, I have my conscience and I know I’m an honest man. I am clean. I am not a worried man.”

FIFA’s reputation fell into question over the troubled process leading to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups awards.

The executive committee’s vote, in December 2010, was followed by further scandal in the run-up to Blatter’s re-election as president the following year.

A first attempt at reform was only partially effective. A strengthened ethics arm saw the suspensions and departures of a number of senior exco figures before seven FIFA-linked senior football and commercial figures were arrested in Zurich on a US Justice Department indictment on May 27.

Two days later Blatter was re-elected as president but then stood down under the weight of controversy with the Swiss judicial authorities launching their own inquiry into the awards of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and assisting the USDoJ in relation to suspected banking transactions.

Swiss sources have indicated that around 100 questionable financial transactions which may be linked to the World Cups awards were being investigated.