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Blatter defends Fifa, presidential tenure

Outgoing Fifa president Sepp Blatter has maintained that world football’s governing body is not a corrupt “institution,” adding that he is “clean” amid ongoing criminal investigations into the governance of the sport.

Blatter announced on June 2 that he would be standing down, just days after securing a fifth term as president. Contenders are now coming forward to replace him, but the 79-year-old Swiss is set to remain in power until his successor is elected on February 26.

Concerning his decision over the presidency and his place within football amid the ongoing Swiss and US investigations, Blatter told UK broadcaster the BBC: “I did it because I wanted to protect Fifa. I can protect myself. I am strong enough.”

He added: “I know what I have done, what I have not done. I have my conscience and I know I'm an honest man. I am clean. I am not a worried man.”

Fourteen sports marketing executives and football officials, including several from Fifa, were indicted in the United States in late May on bribery, money laundering and wire fraud charges involving more than $150m (€135.4m) in payments. Meanwhile, a Swiss investigation is also continuing into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which saw the hosting rights assigned to Russia and Qatar, respectively.

However, Blatter has remained defensive of Fifa as an organisation, stating: “The institution is not corrupt. There is no corruption in football, there is corruption with individuals, it is the people.” He also repeated his criticism of the means of forming Fifa’s Executive Committee, whose members are elected by the continental confederations rather than the Fifa Congress. “I have to take people, they are not my people,” he said. “I cannot be morally responsible for other people.”

Blatter has also sought to defend his tenure as president, a role to which he was first appointed in 1998. He added: “Go to the world, go to Asia, go to Africa… go to China, ask them what they think about Fifa and Blatter, that's different. At least (I am) respected because I have done a lot. Not only me but Fifa has done a lot and I have served this Fifa. I am sure this will be recognised, that the big job that has been done by Fifa and by myself… (over) 40 years.

“I am sure people are realising that the job I have done in Fifa is a good job, it's the right job for the development of football, the right job for education of youth. If there are people who don't like the organisation or don't like me, they will realise they have been wrong… they will realise that.”