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
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
i100
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
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

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?