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Dec 4, 2011

Blatter vows to battle on

Sepp Blatter says he cannot leave his position as FIFA president until he has improved the organisation's image and said the British press are seeking revenge for the 2018 World Cup bid failure.

• FIFA advised to make major reforms
• Blatter: Racism issue closed

Blatter has come in for regular criticism in Britain for his leadership of FIFA, with his recent comments on racism prompting extensive coverage and fresh calls for him to leave his post. The 75-year-old, though, has no intention of stepping down at this stage.

"I cannot stop now," he told Matin Dimanche. "I have not finished my mission. We must improve the organisation's image.

"FIFA represents a population of 300 million people - roughly the same size as the United States. In a country as large as that, there are bound to be crimes and cheating, but nobody ever says that Americans are dysfunctional or their Constitution is bad or their president is corrupt."

Asked whether his controversial comments on racism and female footballers wearing tighter shorts were instinctive or politically calculated, he said: "It's not calculated. I say what I think - it's purely instinctive. I am always amazed at the reactions I've provoked. I am sincere.

"Shorts for women... what did I say that was shocking? Watch volleyball, with its small outfits. My idea was no big thing at all.

"In the case of racism, I said that on a football field insults should end with a handshake. People then concluded that Blatter had denied the existence of racism. I do not calculate these things, I don't provoke them. I say what I think.

"And I'll tell you: if we take stock of my time at FIFA, the facts are in my favour."

The accusations of corruption against FIFA in the British media actually predate the failure to land the rights to host the 2018 World Cup failure, but Blatter believes a sense of bitterness over the overall loss of control of the game drives the coverage.

"In the '60s and '70s, the major sports federations were in British hands. This is no longer the case. The English lost power and, more recently, the 2018 World Cup. They were anxious to have it - much more than they were to have the Olympics.

"They thought football was coming home and the World Cup was rightfully theirs: when they came here with Beckham, Prince William and Prime Minister Cameron, they were sure they'd win the rights. They got two votes. Since then, they have been looking for any means to justify their defeat."

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