FIFA president Sepp Blatter has suggested there may have been something underhand in the decision to award the 2006 World Cup to Germany.FIFA is currently facing renewed criticism after it was revealed that the body's former president, Joao Havelange, accepted bribes, along with Executive Committee member Ricardo Teixeira.
Blatter, who said that in his opinion Havelange must be stripped of his honorary president title at FIFA, has come out in defence of his own presidency in an interview with Swiss newspaper SonntagsBlick.
Reminded that he had told Weltwoche two years ago that there were "no rotten eggs" and "no systematic corruption" at FIFA, he added: "Systematic corruption does not exist. If it did, we would be prosecuted.
"Rotten eggs... yes, that was the wrong thing to say. If there are rotten eggs, you cannot make the president responsible.
I cannot choose these people personally. The Executive Committee is elected by Congress. It is clear that, in the future, the candidates will be screened by the Ethics Comission."
Blatter also revealed that he had rejected a bribery attempt earlier in his career.
"There was an attempt. When I was secretary general, the president of a country's football association approached me," he said. "It was about a game in which the winner would qualify for the 1986 World Cup.
"He was at FIFA HQ and, on his departure, he came to me and said: 'It would be good if the referee were on our side'. He put an envelope into my coat. I went back to the office, opened the envelope, and it contained $50,000.
"I took the money to the accountant, and he suggested we open an account in the man's name and put the money into it. I told the man and, 14 days later, he collected the money. Since then, nobody has tried to bribe me."
The allegations of bribery against FIFA are nothing new, with questions having been raised following the awards of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.
Asked about the allegations that those World Cups had been bought, Blatter replied: "Bought World Cups... I remember the award of the World Cup for 2006 when, at the last minute, someone left the room, and so instead of the voting being split 10-10 it was 10-9 in favour of Germany.
"I'm glad I didn't have to make a casting vote but, well, that person suddenly got up and left. Maybe I was too good natured and naive."
Asked if there was a suspicion that the 2006 World Cup was bought, he added: "No, I'm not suggesting anything. It's just something that I noticed."
DFB secretary general Helmut Sandrock reacted angrily to any suggestion of impropriety with regard to Germany winning the right to host the 2006 tournament.
"To allude to something in this nebulous way, without any foundation, seems motivated by the desire to distract people from the current events [at FIFA]," he said.
Franz Beckenbauer, who presided over the World Cup bid, added: "He is wrong in any case about the result of the vote. It was 12-11 in favour of us, not 10-9."
Blatter, meanwhile, said he is confident he will be able to improve his public image as he looks to implement changes that will help prevent corruption in the future.
"I think it will change. I believe in myself. The Executive Committee, which meets on Tuesday, must now approve the reforms. Let's not forget: the FIFA president is elected by the football world, not be the media."
He also suggested that he may run again for the presidency in 2015. "I would not exclude the possibility. Let's see how my health is."(CJITL Via Soccernet)