Don't blame me, says FIFA's Blatter

Thu Jul 9, 2015 2:45pm EDT
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By Simon Evans

(Reuters) - FIFA president Sepp Blatter says he can handle the personal criticism he has faced over the organization's corruption troubles but has "no responsibility" over the body's executive committee.

In his column in the FIFA Weekly magazine, to be published on Friday, Blatter says the upcoming election to replace him is a "sideshow" but reforms are needed because FIFA's "future is at stake".

FIFA was thrown into turmoil when 14 sports marketing executives and soccer officials, including several from Zurich-based FIFA, were indicted by the United States Department of Justice in late May on bribery, money-laundering and wire fraud charges.

Among those indicted were FIFA vice-presidents Jeffrey Webb of the Cayman Islands and Uruguayan Eugenio Figueredo, who have both been suspended, and former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago.

Also indicted was Costa Rican Edoardo Li, who had been elected to the FIFA executive committee, FIFA development officer Julio Rocha of Nicaragua and former executive committee member Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay.

"The popular outrage concerning FIFA in recent weeks has mainly been directed at me personally. I have no problem with this. I can defend myself," wrote Blatter in the column.

"However, I would appeal for fairness: I bear no responsibility for members of a government (the FIFA Executive Committee) I have not myself elected.

"The FIFA President must work with the people allotted him by the confederations. I therefore also bear no responsibility whatsoever for the behavior of these ExCo members on their home turf," he added.   Continued...

FIFA President Sepp Blatter speaks during an event for workers building the planned FIFA museum in Zurich June 25, 2015. REUTERS/Kurt Schorrer