Blatter states 'racism' behind corruption claims
FIFA president Sepp Blatter launched a scathing attack on those he said were "plotting to destroy" world soccer's governing body, and branded some of the criticism of the Qatar World Cup award for 2022 as racist.
Blatter was addressing delegates of the African and Asian confederations at their extraordinary congresses ahead of FIFA's annual congress which starts in Sao Paulo on Tuesday.
The African congress, which declared its "continued support" for Blatter, who intends to run for a fifth term as president next year, also passed a resolution condemning what it called the British media's racist attack on its officials.
Blatter's comment came in the wake of a series of fresh allegations made by the Sunday Times newspaper about the award of the Cup to Qatar and rumblings from sponsors who are unhappy with the current trouble FIFA is facing.
Blatter, without defining who "they" were, told Asian delegates "they want to destroy us; they don't want to destroy football, but they want to destroy the institution (FIFA)".
He got a standing ovation when he told the delegates to "show unity in FIFA".
Earlier, Blatter spoke to delegates at the African Congress and without naming names described attacks on the Qatar World Cup as "racist".
The Sunday Times over the last two weeks has published a series of articles expanding on allegations that the former president of the Asian Confederation, Mohamed Bin Hammam, had used money from secret slush funds to help win votes and support for the Qatari World Cup bid.
"Once again there is a sort of storm against FIFA relating to the Qatar World Cup. Sadly there's a great deal of discrimination and racism and this hurts me." - Sepp Blatter
Qatar denies the allegations and says it was not connected to Bin Hammam.
Qatar was awarded the World Cup by the FIFA executive committee in December 2010, beating rival bids from the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea.
However, the Sunday Times made new allegations that Bin Hammam specifically targeted African soccer officials and Issa Hayatou, the president of the African Confederation, to help create a groundswell of opinion in favour of the Qatari bid.
Blatter said: "Once again there is a sort of storm against FIFA relating to the Qatar World Cup. Sadly there's a great deal of discrimination and racism and this hurts me."
Hayatou said: "I am very content with what president Blatter said. We support him, and I was very happy with what he told the delegates."
In the wake of the problems facing FIFA, five of FIFA's six major sponsors have expressed their displeasure over the situation.
FIFA's chief investigator, Michael Garcia, is currently completing his assessment of the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, due to be finished this week - although the findings will not be made public until July.