FIFA head refuses to step down over corruption allegations

Sepp Blatter rejected allegations of corruption during his presidency of FIFA Keystone

Sepp Blatter, the Swiss president of football's world governing body, FIFA, says he will not stand down over allegations of corrupt dealings with the bankrupt Swiss sports marketing firm, ISMM-ISL.

This content was published on May 25, 2001 minutes

Speaking at a FIFA news conference in Zurich on Friday, Blatter said he had never taken bribes or tried to corrupt anyone.

He was responding to reports in German and Swiss newspapers, which alleged he had received bribes from ISMM-ISL, which collapsed after running up debts of hundreds of millions of dollars. The company was officially declared bankrupt earlier this week.

"I am totally incorruptible," Blatter said. "In 26 years with FIFA, people have tried to influence me in different ways, sometimes with offers which have verged on corruption. But I swear I wouldn't take a bribe."

Blatter also rejected demands from the European football governing body, UEFA, that he call an extraordinary meeting of FIFA's executive committee to explain his relationship with ISMM-ISL.

UEFA president Lennart Johansson had urged Blatter to call the meeting "for his own good and the good of football".

At a meeting on Thursday, the organisation expressed "grave concern at the lack of transparency and clarity" surrounding the relationship between FIFA and ISMM.

Johansson said Blatter would either have to resign or face a no-confidence vote if he did not meet UEFA's demands. "Those are the two alternatives," he said.

Speaking on Friday, Blatter said FIFA was checking whether SFr75 million ($43 million) paid to ISMM-ISL by a Brazilian broadcaster had been improperly divested. He said it was possible the money had ended up in a secret account.

ISMM-ISL was the world number one sports marketing firm, and until recently held the marketing rights for the 2002 and 2006 football world cups. But a series of bad investments forced the company to seek bankruptcy.

FIFA's marketing partner for more than 20 years, the firm had run up debts estimated at around SFr1 billion when it went bankrupt.

FIFA has cancelled this year's World Club Championship so that it can direct resources to its new marketing subsidiary, which has taken over responsibility from ISMM-ISL for selling the rights to the next two football world cups.

swissinfo with agencies

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