'Pope' Blatter likely to ride out latest FIFA storm

Fri Nov 14, 2014 2:39pm EST
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By Mike Collett

LONDON (Reuters) - Teflon-coated Sepp Blatter has survived plenty of crises during his 16 years as FIFA president and although the current one over the Garcia corruption report takes world soccer's governing body into uncharted waters, he is very likely to come through it too.

Previous scandals include the collapse of FIFA's former marketing partner ISL in 2001, allegations over bribes paid to former FIFA president Joao Havelange and other senior officials, and financial mismanagement claims made by former FIFA secretary general Michel Zen Ruffinen in 2002.

Blatter survived those crises, and plenty of others including the one when he himself was investigated, and cleared, by FIFA's Ethics Committee of bribery allegations in May 2011.

This latest "difficulty", as Blatter likes to call the squalls that continually hang over his organization, shows no signs of abating and has developed into something more resembling a hurricane over the last two days.

German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, head of the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA's Ethics Committee, on Thursday published a 42-page summary of New York attorney Michael Garcia's 420-page report into alleged corruption surrounding the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in Russia and Qatar.

Three hours later Garcia, who spent over a year investigating the alleged corruption, responded that Eckert's summary was "materially incomplete and an erroneous misrepresentation" of his findings.

He also said he was going to appeal against Eckert's summary.

In the meantime, FIFA executive committee members Jeffrey Webb, the CONCACAF confederation president, Sunil Gulati, the president of the U.S. association, and FIFA presidential candidate Jerome Champagne -- among others -- have called for FIFA to publish the report in full, redacted, or edited where appropriate.   Continued...

FIFA President Sepp Blatter gestures as he addresses a news conference after a meeting of the FIFA executive committee in Zurich September 26, 2014. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann