Sepp Blatter struggles amid questions regarding racism comments

 

Fifa president Sepp Blatter snapped at colleagues and looked beset by nerves today as he described the hurt he felt after being criticised for his comments about racism in soccer.

The usually slick Blatter addressed the media after opening the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) executive committee meeting in Kuala Lumpur, but when invited to speak to the small crowd he knocked a microphone off the table in front of him and shuffled uncomfortably in his seat.

The 75-year-old struggled through the media conference in Malaysia and offered long, rambling answers about topics such as the strength of Asian economies, while officials tried to limit tricky questions.

Blatter has been battered by waves of negative headlines since last week when he said there was no racism in the sport and, if there was, players should just shake hands afterwards to resolve it.

The head of soccer's world governing body later released a statement to 'clarify his comments' and has been on a charm offensive after conducting a number of interviews in Europe to stress his commitment to eradicating racism from soccer.

However, the opening question at AFC House in Kuala Lumpur, predictably on his comments on racism, brought a curt reply.

"I can only say this item for me is closed. I have made my apologies, I cannot say more," Blatter told reporters, eyes shifting around the room as he looked for the right words.

"If somebody is still thinking I am a racist, sorry to say that I am working now practically 37 years in FIFA ... there is no racism, nothing at all, and this matter for me is over and over. We go forward."

Asked by Reuters if he had been surprised by the reaction to his comments and calls for him to resign from the post he has held since 1998, the Swiss said he had been upset by the criticism.

"In my activities as the FIFA president nothing is surprising me, but I was very much hurt by these comments because it touched me in my conscience."

After Blatter answered, an AFC official hosting the session asked for no more questions on the subject, and FIFA vice president Prince Ali of Jordan, sat next to the Swiss, then offered his full support to the beleaguered FIFA leader.

However it was not just the media who were causing Blatter angst. When asked about the use of the hijab, the Islamic head scarf, in soccer, Blatter shot down Prince Ali's offer to answer on his behalf.

"I can just answer, I was asked, I answer. You can add but I answer," a visibly frustrated Blatter snapped as Prince Ali blushed.

The AFC official was required to come to the president's aid when he was asked if there was any way banned AFC head Mohammed Bin Hammam could be welcomed back into FIFA in future after they found him guilty of bribing officials.

"I am not up to comment on any decision taken by our different committees and we will await the outcome for the next step," Blatter said before the official added the subject should not be mentioned again.

Bin Hammam has launched an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to overturn the FIFA ban and faces a race against time to clear his name by a deadline of May 31 in order to return to his role.

The AFC have appointed Zhang Jilong as acting president and Blatter praised his work before having a dig at his former friend Bin Hammam.

"I can only congratulate and commend the Asian Football Confederation how they have dealt with the problem that has occurred here in this confederation especially by having to replace the president.

"We now have an acting president, we have an executive committee that is working together in solidarity and unity, and I am very, very happy."

Reuters

Suggested Topics
News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's most starring part
News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
News
We are phenomenally good at recognising faces; the study showed that humans have been selected to be unique and easily recognisable
science

Human faces unique 'because we don't recognise each other by smell'

Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
news

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise
student

Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week