In his first interview since his re-election as FIFA president, Sepp Blatter talks to CNN’s Alex Thomas about restoring the credibility of the world’s football governing body and the possibility of re-examining Qatar’s winning 2022 World Cup bid.
ALEX THOMAS: Why are you the right man to lead world football for the next four years?
SEPP BLATTER: I’m the right man because the development of football in the past and what we have done in the years of my presidency and also in the years of (former FIFA president) Joao Havelange. We are now somewhere where the football needs a little bit more credibility because football brings so much money to the game and automatically a lot of devils come in to the game.
Now we have to go forward and we have to cut all these allegations and criticism. Why I am the man here, because there was no other option. They had to elect a president and at the end I was the only candidate.
THOMAS: Improving FIFA’s image is your number one priority, is it?
BLATTER: I have said ‘zero tolerance’ is one thing. I have also said the social and cultural implementation of football is important but now it’s time to rebuild the image of FIFA. That’s number one, and I have already started.
THOMAS: There were a lot of unanswered questions from last week’s FIFA congress. Firstly, with Mohammed Bin Hammam and Jack Warner who are suspended and FIFA is investigating the allegations against them. How surprised were you? These are two men who were your close friends.
BLATTER: We are friends, but it must be going for the interest of FIFA. First of all because I have represented FIFA for 36 years, it is my FIFA.
THOMAS: And it’s your family, isn’t it? You talk about FIFA’s football family. Are you happy that Mr Warner has said he will not release a football tsunami?
BLATTER: But I’m not. This is a question of character. If you have a problem inside your family you are not going to disclose it to the public.
THOMAS: But that would help with transparency, wouldn’t it? If things were made more public, it would help FIFA be more transparent?
BLATTER: Yeah, but I don’t know what he means by the tsunami! It’s easy to say. It’s like the allegations made by Lord Triesman. These are allegations and there is no evidence so if somebody says it’s a tsunami, you know there is also very little tsunami.
THOMAS: You said the solutions committee would be chaired by someone within FIFA.
BLATTER: Someone in FIFA, yes!
THOMAS: Again it’s the problem that you could have been tempted to have an independent committee too beside the football family.
BLATTER: Listen, the football family has asked me to solve the problem inside FIFA and not outside FIFA.
THOMAS: You’ve spoken very strongly about how you want to change FIFA for the better. Do you think part of that is looking again at Qatar hosting the Word Cup in 2022?
BLATTER: No! I don’t know why! I don’t know why we should go in. Then we shall go to all and start with Brazil and all before. I don’t know why we should open something because somebody has said something towards Qatar.
THOMAS: There’s not strong evidence with the allegations against Qatar but would it not be fair to the countries that lost out like the USA, Australia and others just to look into it one more time?
BLATTER: Listen. Let me work now on this new approach of the ethics committee. Let me work with this committee of solutions and if this committee of solutions or the ethics committee has the impression that they should do something then let them make the decision.
THOMAS: You’ve been at FIFA for a long, long time. How are you feeling because you have had to cope with all the criticism personally over the last few weeks.
BLATTER: I am always at the centre in football and I have received a lot of kicks, pushing and pulling shirts so I’m used to this. When you are in such a position that I am in, and when you are working so hard, it is obvious that not everything that you are doing pleases everybody.
THOMAS: You’ve not had enough? You are determined to see out the four years?
BLATTER: No, no, I haven’t had enough. I would say I have received enough kicks and I hope this to stop now. I want to prove now that we can bring back this credibility to FIFA.