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Soccer world deeply divided after Blatter's re-election

The soccer world remained deeply divided a day after FIFA President Sepp Blatter was re-elected for a fifth term. A defiant Blatter raged against the European delegations that voted for his defeated challenger.

The president of soccer's world governing body said little at Saturday's press conference at FIFA headquarters in Zurich that appeared designed to reconcile with his critics among the more than 200 soccer associations that took part in Friday's vote.

Blatter told reporters that he would "forgive but not forget"

those who voted against him

in election at the FIFA congress in the Swiss city.

This has been interpreted this as a thinly veiled jab at the Europeans in general and UEFA President Michel Platini in particular, who

prior to the election had called on Blatter to step down

over the latest and biggest scandal to his FIFA during his reign.

About the closest the 79-year-old Blatter came to extending an olive branch to his detractors was the acknowledgement that he was "also the president of those associations that are against me."

He also insisted that he had no fear that a US criminal investigation into allegations of corruption could eventually lead to his door.

Seven senior FIFA officials were arrested in Zurich

last Wednesday and a total of

14 people have been indicted by US authorities.

On Saturday, Blatter scoffed at the suggestion that he could be next.

"Arrested for what? Next question," he said.

Dissent from across the Channel

Later on Saturday, though, there was more turbulence from England, which has been at the forefront of opposition to Blatter, with the vice-chairman of the English FA, David Gill confirming that he would not take up his post on FIFA's powerful executive committee.

"This action is not something I take lightly but the terribly damaging events of the last three days have convinced me it is not appropriate to be a member of the FIFA executive committee under the current leadership," Gill told the media in London.

The English FA's chairman, Greg Dyke, told reporters at Wembley Stadium ahead of Saturday's Cup final, that he didn't believe Blatter would serve out his term. Dyke said he believed FIFA was bound to be hit by further scandals that would make the pressure on the president to much to bear.

"I think he will be then forced to resign," Dyke said. "If he had been head of any company, any organization where there was proper scrutiny, he would have gone."

The 'Kaiser' to Blatter's rescue

There were kinder words for Blatter for German football legend Franz Beckenbauer, who insisted that the president was not to blame for FIFA's problems.

"'It's not the person but the system.' It's very difficult to change the system," the former World Cup-winning Germany captain and coach told the SID news agency.

"How can you control 209 countries? You're always going to have a few irregularities," the man nicknamed the "Kaiser" added.

He was also critical of UEFA's efforts to oust Blatter.

"UEFA didn't even manage to put up their own candidate," the former FIFA executive committee member said. "If I want to change something, then I have to offer an alternative."

pfd/sms (AP, Reuters, DPA, AFP, SID)

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