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Jun 11, 2014

Platini proud of Blatter backlash

FIFA president Sepp Blatter hit out at corruption claims against the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, describing them as "racist."

Michel Platini has said he is proud of European football's rebellion against embattled FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

After Blatter -- under increasing fire over FIFA's controversial decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar -- said he wanted to stand for a fifth term as president of world football's governing body, representatives of the English, Dutch, Norwegian and German football associations called on him to step aside.

That announcement last month represented a U-turn by the 78-year-old, who had previously said he would stand down when his current term ends in 2015.

Asked about the angry response to Blatter, which came at a meeting of UEFA federations in Sao Paulo on Tuesday, Platini said: "I was very proud of the Europeans."

The UEFA president could challenge Blatter for the FIFA leadership and is expected to announce whether or not he will do so in September.

Blatter was condemned by English FA chief Greg Dyke, who hit out at his claim that racism was behind allegations of corruption over the awarding of the 2022 tournament to Qatar.

Dyke described those remarks as "offensive" and told reporters after the meeting: "I said: 'I regard the comments you made yesterday about the allegations in the British media in which you described them as racist as totally unacceptable.'

"The allegations being made have nothing to do with racism -- they are allegations about corruption within FIFA. These allegations need to be properly investigated and properly answered.

"Mr Blatter, many of us are deeply troubled by your reaction to these allegations. It's time for FIFA to stop attacking the messenger and instead consider and understand the message."

Former Manchester United chief executive David Gill said Blatter should stand down, adding: "I think we need to move on. I think we need a full, frank and open debate about what FIFA needs going forward."

Dutch FA chief Michael van Praag -- another possible leadership challenger -- German FA president Wolfgang Niersbach and Norway's executive committee member Karen Espelund all called on Blatter not to stand for a fifth term.

Van Praag warned that "people link FIFA to corruption and bribery and all kinds of old boys' networks" and that a change was necessary to alter this perception.

And he blasted Blatter, telling him: "People tend not to take you very seriously any more."

In meetings with Asian and African delegates on Monday, Blatter made his accusation that critics of FIFA's decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar had a racist motivation.

But his comments, in response to claims from the Sunday Times that corruption was central to Qatar's successful bid, sparked anger and derision.

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

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