World football chief Sepp Blatter vowed to fight critics trying to “destroy” FIFA on Monday as he launched a staunch defence of his scandal-tainted organisation.
Speaking before delegates of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in Sao Paulo ahead of FIFA’s 64th Congress, Blatter called for unity against people he described as the “destroyers” of FIFA.
“Show unity and confirm this unity, it’s the best way to reply to all the destructors in the world,” Blatter said.
“They want to destroy, not the game, but they want to destroy the institution, because our institution is too strong,” he added.
Blatter said FIFA was “so strong we are sure they’ll not destroy it.”
Blatter’s rallying cry comes as FIFA faces mounting pressure over its 2010 decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.
Major FIFA sponsors Adidas, Sony, Visa and Hyundai have demanded a thorough investigation of claims that Qatari official Mohammed bin Hammam paid millions of dollars in bribes to secure the tiny Gulf state’s victory in the 2022 race.
Blatter is tipped to run for a fifth four-year term as head of FIFA, and could announce his candidacy in the 2015 election at this week’s congress.
Qatar beat the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea to the 2022 tournament, despite a FIFA technical report which warned the searing temperatures during June and July posed a health risk.
Amid calls for a re-vote, FIFA investigator Michael Garcia was to finish his inquiry into the 2022 vote and the 2018 bid contest, won by Russia, on Monday.
Garcia is to speak at the Congress about his work, but his report will not be handed over to the FIFA adjudicatory chamber until mid-July, when the World Cup final is held.