29 May 2015

Blatter battles on, for now

6:01 am on 29 May 2015

Beleaguered FIFA president Sepp Blatter has warned of "more bad news" for football's scandal tainted world body but rejected calls to resign over a widening corruption scandal.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter

FIFA president Sepp Blatter Photo: Photosport

Blatter, who faces a re-election vote Friday night, opened FIFA's annual congress by saying he could not be blamed for the corruption controversy which even drew Russia's President Vladimir Putin and British Prime Minister David Cameron into the fray.

But after the arrest of seven top football officials at the FIFA hotel on Wednesday Blatter warned that the storm is not over.

He says the next few months will not be easy for FIFA. I am sure more bad news will follow but it is necessary to begin to restore trust in our organisation.

Blatter called the scandals "unprecedented" and says the actions of individuals bring shame and humiliation on football and demand action and change from us all.

He spoke hours after a showdown with European football chief Michel Platini who called on Blatter to quit.

Platini said he confronted Blatter at an emergency meeting of the heads of the the six regional confederations.

The UEFA president said he was "sickened" and "disgusted" at the arrests and a raid by Swiss police on FIFA headquarters as part of a corruption inquiry into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.

The seven arrested in Zurich are among 14 people accused by US authorities of taking more than 150 million US dollars in bribes.

Blatter remained defiant despite mounting pressure over the scandals.

Credit card giant Visa said it would "reassess" its sponsorship if FIFA does not clean up the sport.

Unless FIFA rebuilds a corporate culture with "strong ethical practices" at its heart, "we have informed them that we will reassess our sponsorship," Visa said.

Coca-Cola, Adidas, McDonald's and Budweiser also spoke out against the corruption scandal.

Even International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said in front of Blatter that FIFA must change.

Blatter has not been personally implicated in the scandals and Swiss authorities said there were no immediate plans to question him.

And the spotlight now moves to Friday night's vote when Blatter remains the favourite to extend his 17-year-old rule over the world's most popular sport.

UEFA had called for Friday's vote to be postponed because of the corruption arrests. But other regional groups said it should go ahead and UEFA said it would not boycott the vote.

Platini said that a "very, very, very large majority" of the 54 European nations would back Prince Ali bin al Hussein of Jordan, the FIFA vice president who is the only challenger to Blatter in the vote.

He called on other regions to back the prince. Australia agreed but African and Asian groups say they are still backing Blatter.