ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA president Sepp Blatter has rejected allegations of corruption at soccer’s governing body after Russia and Qatar won the right to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, calling England “bad losers” for their reaction.
“To be honest, I was surprised by all the English complaining after the defeat. England, of all people, the motherland of fairplay ideas,” Blatter told Swiss weekly magazine Weltwoche in an interview released ahead of publication on Thursday.
“Now some of them are showing themselves to be bad losers,” he said. “You can’t come afterwards and say so and so promised to vote for England. The results are known. The outcome came out clearly.”
Roger Burden, acting chairman of the Football Association, withdrew his application for the permanent position last week, saying he could no longer trust FIFA members after the failure of England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup.
He added that England’s bid team in Zurich, which included Prime Minister David Cameron and the second in line to the throne, Prince William, were promised votes which had not been delivered by FIFA executive committee members.
Cameron made a jibe at FIFA on Wednesday when he was asked in parliament what he thought about soccer’s governing body after his experience of England’s World Cup bid.
“I certainly learned one thing which is when it comes to breaking promises, politicians have got nothing on football management,” he said, laughing.
Blatter said the reaction of the losing bidders showed some did not understand his drive to expand soccer’s frontiers.
“I really sense in some reactions a bit of the arrogance of the western world of Christian background. Some simply can’t bear it if others get a chance for a change,” he said.
“What can be wrong if we start football in regions where this sport demonstrates a potential which goes far beyond sport?” he said.
England’s bid chief Andy Anson has suggested Blatter influenced committee members before the vote by reminding them of British media stories which alleged corruption against them and led to two being banned.
Blatter rejected the corruption allegations and said he was being targeted by anti-FIFA journalists: “There is no systematic corruption in FIFA. That is nonsense,” he said. “We are financially clean and clear.”
But Blatter said FIFA could not act as if nothing had happened, adding he wanted to set up a taskforce to look into compliance issues, without giving details.
“We need to improve our image. We also need to clarify some things within FIFA,” he said.
Asked if he would still be FIFA president to open the Qatar World Cup in 2022, Blatter said: “Definitely not. If God wills it, I will be invited to the opening party on crutches or in a wheelchair.”
Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Sonia Oxley and Justin Palmer