FIFA President Sepp Blatter insists he has nothing to do with twin corruption probes into more than a dozen top-level FIFA executives. Yet the scandal will keep him from attending the Women's World Cup final in Canada.
Despite the ongoing investigations into corruption allegations into world football's governing body, FIFA President Sepp Blatter insisted on Wednesday that he personally was innocent of any wrongdoing.
In an interview with Germany's "Bunte" magazine, Blatter offered his clear response to anyone who might accuse him of corruption: "I will answer: Do you understand at all this word you are using? Anyone who accuses me of being corrupt must first prove it to me."
"No one can do that, because I am not corrupt."
The 79-year-old Swiss native, who has run FIFA for seventeen years, announced in the beginning of June that he would step down at an extraordinary FIFA congress, likely to be held between December of this year and March 2016. Just days earlier, Blatter had won re-election to his post even amid FBI raids of FIFA's regular, planned annual congress.
In the magazine interview, Blatter said he was open to criticism, but not for what he considered unfounded, slanderous accusations.
"I like to accept correct and constructive criticism, but when someone says Blatter is corrupt, because FIFA is corrupt, then I can only shake my head. Anyone who says something like that without evidence should be put in prison," Blatter said.
Blatter forgoes women's final in Canada
Although Blatter is not known to be directly implicated, the dual Swiss and American criminal investigations into several high-ranking officials have impacted the president's plans. Besides his intention to step down, Blatter's lawyer also announced on Tuesday that he would not be able to attend the final of the Women's World Cup in Canada due to "current commitments in Zürich."
The New York Times reported that FIFA Senior Vice President Issa Hayatou of Cameroon will present the World Cup trophy to the winner of Sunday's final between the United States and either England or reigning champions Japan.
Fourteen men, nine soccer officials and five marketing executives, have been indicted in the US on bribery and racketeering charges. US officials are waiting on the possible extradition of a further seven, including two FIFA vice presidents, from Zürich.
The Swiss investigation, which is probing possible money laundering and criminal mismanagement at FIFA, revolves around the bidding contests which saw Russia awarded the 2018 World Cup and Qatar the one in 2022.
es/msh (AP, AFP, epd)