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Blatter stalks out


A badly rattled Sepp Blatter has just stalked out of an extraordinary press conference at Fifa headquarters in Zurich.   This follows a day in which various allegations have been made, not least by the suspended Jack Warner who increasingly looks like an unguided missile that could hit any target.  

Blatter faced some tough questioning in the press conference and made a call for respect at the end.  At times he seemed like a rabbit caught in the headlights, but he still remains in denial, arguing that 'Football is not in a crisis, only some difficulties' (whatever the difference is).

Blatter clearly resents interventions by governments calling for his re-election to be postponed.  Such a call has been made by Britain's sports minister, undoubtedly with the concurrence of prime minister David Cameron who is on holiday in Ibizia.  

Earlier in the day Warner had produced a copy of an e-mail which appeared to show that  the Fifa secretary-general beleived that Qatar had 'bought' the 2022 World Cup.  However, the Fifa secretary-general has subsequently clarified this comment which he says was taken out of context and referred to their exercise of financial strength.

Blatter started the press conference by specifically repudiating charges made in the Commons by Lord Triesman and also by the Sunday Times.   More detail will be available on the Fifa website.  The Fifa president then spoke in French about various matters discussed at today's Fifa Executive Committee meeting.

Replying to questions, he said that the way forward for Fifa was zero tolerance on and off the field of play.  The ethics committee should be reinforced and made more professional.   There should be better understanding with the media (although yesterday the secretary-general appeared to be claiming that the whole affair had been got up by the media).

Blatter was prepared to answer only one part of two part questions and refused to answer a question from Bloomberg about the controversial e-mail.   There was then some shouting from the back by someone without a microphone and an evidently angry Blatter said, 'This is not a bazaar.  This is the Fifa house.'

In response to a question from BBC News, Blatter said that any postponement of the presidential election was up to the Fifa Congress.

Blatter was evidently rattled when a journalist noted that Fifa's reputation was at its lowest ever and asked why it had happened on his watch.   Looking tired, Blatter said 'I tried.'  He went on to say 'We are in a game and [there is] a lot of gambling and not only on the field of play.'

He conceded that Fifa may have been too comfortable.   It had to fight against 'little devils'.  Giving some ground, he admitted that Fifa was 'in a very bad situation', but the football family had an opportunity to respond.

A questioner asked how he was going to clean up the blood that had been spilt given that executive commitee members were openly criticising each other.   Blatter responded that he did not choose them, he had to work with them, hardly a vote of confidence.

Sepp Blatter and Fifa face their biggest ever crisis.   As he noted it is no longer the 'little Fifa' of the past which he joined 36 years ago.  

Now it has big responsibilities and a major impact on the world.   Can it face up to them?   It is significant that Coca Cola has now joined another major sponsor, Adidas, in expressing concern about the situation at Fifa.