Under fire Blatter names new FIFA Ethics Committee chairmen
Tuesday, 17 July 2012
July 17 - FIFA President Sepp Blatter today defiantly shrugged off calls for his resignation in the wake of the ISL bribery affair as world football's governing body appointed two new independent supremos in the war against corruption – notably among its own officials.
As expected, Blatter (pictured above) received a media grilling following a meeting of FIFA's Executive Committee in Zurich but steadfastly declined to give ground despite revelations last week that he knew about huge payments made by ISL, FIFA's one-time marketing partner, to his predecessor, João Havelange, and his former son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira, in exchange for lucrative television deals.
German football officials are among those who have criticised Blatter and FIFA, saying they are "appalled" at the ISL evidence which was finally made public after being kept under wraps for years in the Swiss courts.
The highly respected Transparency International group says Blatter can no longer be trusted to lead the fight against corruption.
But the 76-year-old Swiss was in typically bullish mood.
"If I reacted every time someone somewhere says I should step down then I would be angry no end," he said.
"You have to live with it."
Blatter repeated his oft-stated stance that only the full 209-member FIFA Congress can call for his resignation – an unlikely scenario given the amount of support he has among most confederations.
"If somebody wants me to step down it would have to come from Congress," he said.
"Pushing for reforms is my initiative.
"The way the press and certain organisations judge me is their business.
"I'm responsible for myself, not for others.
"If they wish to depict me in a different way, that's their problem.
"If people no longer want me, the associations will stand up and say 'Blatter we don't want you any longer', then I will say 'thank you, I have done my job' and will leave without any questions.
"But it has to be done by Congress."
Blatter insists he was not implicated in the ISL affair but has controversially declined to take action against the ailing Havelange (pictured above), Honorary FIFA President and formerly the longest serving member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) until he resigned last December.
Any sanctions will now come under the umbrella of FIFA's revamped two-chamber Ethics Committee following the appointment of former United States attorney Michael J Garcia as head of the investigative arm with responsibility to weed out corruption in world football.
Garcia will have total freedom to delve back into the ISL scandal, including the role of Blatter himself, as well as probe how FIFA Executive Committee members chose Russia and Qatar to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and make sure there was no illegal vote buying.
German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, a specialist in high-profile bribery cases, was selected by FIFA to chair the judging side of the Ethics Committee and decide what penalties to hand out.
Garcia and Eckert, crucially, are from outside the so-called "football family".
Both had to fulfil a FIFA rule that neither they, nor their families, had a paid connection to football in the past four years.
Blatter said they were vital appointments to help wipe out sleaze.
Garcia, he promised, would not be blocked from examining the ISL affair.
"He will have not only the right but the duty to have this case analysed on ethics and moral grounds and then to report back to the Executive Committee," Blatter said.
He refused, however, to say why war crimes prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo of Argentina, who had been widely reported as being the man to be handed the role given to Garcia, was ultimately overlooked, a u-turn that seems likely to prompt further media questioning.
July 2012: Germany "appalled" by ISL affair as calls come in for Blatter to quit
July 2012: Blatter wants Havelange stripped of honorary FIFA Presidency
July 2012: Andrew Warshaw - Blatter once again escapes the net of culpability
July 2012: Blatter defends involvement in ISL bribery scandal
July 2012: Former IOC member confirmed as having received massive kickbacks from FIFA's former marketing partner