During a contentious press conference on Monday evening, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said Qatar’s 2022 bid was “clean” and will not be investigated.
Why Blatter refused to rule out a revote of 2022 last week, but is now declaring in no uncertain terms the validity of Qatar’s bid is unclear.
The presser is the capstone to a rollercoaster of a week filled with corruption allegations against key FIFA officials.
During the conference, reporters grilled Blatter, who will stand unopposed for his fourth term as FIFA president on Wednesday, on the standing of FIFA and the need for change.
Sole contender Mohamed Bin Hammam, a Qatari, withdrew his candidacy on Sunday, and hours later, was suspended by the FIFA ethics committee pending an investigation in bribery allegations.
Earlier on Monday, FIFA vice president Jack Warner, also suspended due to corruption accusations, made public an email from a senior FIFA official saying Bin Hammam “bought” the World Cup for Qatar.
FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke admitted to writing the email but clarified it as a “private” statement and not an indictment of Qatar’s bid.
Here are excerpts of tonight’s conference:
Blatter: I regret what has happened in last days and weeks, it has done great damage to FIFA, but is also a great disappointment…
Saudi newspaper: Media today talking about a crisis. Is it a crisis?
Blatter answers: If somebody would describe to me a crisis? What is a crisis. If you see the Champions League you would applaud. We are only in some difficulties. And will be solved inside our family.
Question: Do you believe Qatar bid was clean?
A: I believe that the decision which we took for World Cup 2022 was done exactly clean in the same pattern and again say what I said at beginning of press conference there is no issue for the World Cup 2022.
Q: Norway journalist: FIFA reputation at lowest ever. How did it happen on your watch.
A: I tried to have the FIFA reputation at highest possible way. We are in a game, in this game will tell you there is a lot of gambling and not only on the field of play. Have to say at beginning of FIFA when I entered 36 years ago. We have no problems, until 1998, this was the modest FIFA. Now are a comfortable FIFA and because we are too comfortable and being in a game all the little devils can enter the game.
Read the full transcript here. And tell us what you think – will this be the end of speculation about Qatar? Or does FIFA still have a long way to go?