31 May 2011

FIFA head brushes off 'crisis' suggestions

10:03 am on 31 May 2011

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has rejected suggestions the football world governing body is in crisis but says "great damage" has been done by corruption allegations.

Mr Blatter told a news conference in Zurich that FIFA had received no evidence that there were issues with the process to choose the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

The organisation's secretary general Jerome Valcke has confirmed he sent a private email suggesting Qatar bought the right to host the 2022 World Cup but says it has been quoted selectively.

The email questioned why Asian football boss Mohamed bin Hammam was running for FIFA president and asked whether he "thought you can buy FIFA as they bought the World Cup."

Qatar has categorically denied any wrongdoing, while Mr bin Hammam said he had no idea why Mr Valcke had made such a claim.

Mr Valcke later issued a statement saying that in his email he meant only that Qatar's financial resources enabled them to mount an effective lobbying campaign.

The email was made public by FIFA's suspended vice-president Jack Warner.

The organisation's embattled president Sepp Blatter has denied FIFA is in crisis.

"We are only in some difficulties, and these difficulties will be solved ... inside our family," he said in a defiant news conference on Monday.

Mr Blatter said there were no issues with the process to award the tournaments to Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.

The 75-year-old is due to stand unopposed on Thursday for a fourth and final four-year term as president.

Mohamed bin Hammam withdrew from the contest on Sunday, hours before he was suspended by the ethics committee, pending the outcome of a corruption investigation. He says he will appeal against his suspension.