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Blatter accuses English of sour grapes

ZURICH May 18 – FIFA president Sepp Blatter on Tuesday accused the English of sour grapes over their lost bid to host the 2018 World Cup. FIFA has been rocked by new allegations of graft after a British parliamentary committee last week heard testimony about bribes being offered during the bidding process to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

The corruption allegations attracted wide coverage in the British press, with reports branding FIFA officials "sleazeballs" and "rotten to the core".

"The British press have always been very critical regarding football and FIFA. It didn’t start with me. It’s been a long time," Blatter told AFP.

"There is a sort of stubbornness against football and FIFA. Of course there is the fact that England didn’t get the World Cup. But perhaps you have to analyse why.

"The English say: ‘If we’d been told that the World Cup was going towards new territories, we wouldn’t have bid.’

"If they’d followed the policy of the FIFA president, they would have seen that the World Cup was in the process of circulating, in Asia (2002), South Africa (2010), Brazil (2014)…"

Lord David Triesman, the former Football Association and England 2018 World Cup bid chairman, claimed last week there had been "improper and unethical behaviour" by several senior FIFA officials, including Issa Hayatou from Cameroon and Jacques Anouma from the Ivory Coast, in relation to the bid.

The accusations come after FIFA last year suspended two members of its executive committee for one to three years following a probe into alleged misdealings in bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

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And Blatter, who is bidding for a fourth term as FIFA president in June, said he was doing all he could to deal with corruption in the sport.

"I’m here to put football back on track," said Blatter.

"After the turbulence, then the disruptions during October I thought that I could calmly go to the elective congress and announce my ‘zero tolerance’ plan, on which I had already started to work… and then my idea of a council of wise heads made up of personalities from outside the world of football.

"And now this! This British parliamentary enquiry lands in our laps.

"So either there is no proof and we classify the affair, but we can’t file away the statements made by Mr Triesman, or we open an inquiry straight away with the ethics committee."

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