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Blatter rejects European council's call for FIFA election probe

By Manesh Shrestha, for CNN
updated 11:02 AM EST, Fri March 9, 2012
Sepp Blatter has been in Kathmandu this week for the opening ceremony of the AFC Challenge Cup.
Sepp Blatter has been in Kathmandu this week for the opening ceremony of the AFC Challenge Cup.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Head of world football is unhappy with calls for investigation into his election victory
  • Sepp Blatter says Council of Europe should not interfere in FIFA's affairs
  • He says FIFA's members have expressed no concerns over the 2011 ballot
  • Incumbent Blatter was the only candidate after his opponent pulled out in bribery scandal

(CNN) -- Defiant FIFA president Sepp Blatter has told one of Europe's top political organizations not to interfere in the world football body's affairs after it called for a probe into his 2011 re-election.

The Council of Europe, a watchdog that oversees the European Court of Human Rights, had insisted on an internal investigation to determine whether Blatter had exploited his position during last year's election campaign.

His only opponent, former Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed bin Hamman, pulled out of the ballot before a FIFA investigation found him guilty of bribing Caribbean officials three weeks before the June 1 vote.

The Qatari, who was also a top FIFA official, was subsequently banned from football.

"The so-called European Council, they should take up problems they have in Europe not the problems they create in FIFA," Blatter told reporters on Friday in Nepal, where he is attending the AFC Challenge Cup tournament.

We need the acceptance of the political authorities -- but we don't like them interfering in our internal affairs
Sepp Blatter

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Blatter's offer of an extra $1 million in funding to the CONCACAF federation in the run-up to the election was also questioned by the council. The federation covers Central and North America, plus the Caribbean.

"I don't understand why a political organization, in Europe or somewhere in the world, they have the right to ask FIFA to enter into any activity -- especially in the election," said Blatter, who has been FIFA president since 1998.

"Nobody from the football family has any concerns about the election. We need, naturally, also the acceptance of the political authorities -- but we don't like political authorities interfering in our internal affairs."

FIFA is fiercely independent, and suspends any of its 208 member associations if governments interfere in their operations.

Blatter, who turns 76 on Saturday, also said it was strange that the opposition to FIFA came only from Europe but not from Asia, Africa or South America.

The first results of FIFA's ongoing reform process -- triggered by corruption scandals ahead of the December 2010 vote for naming hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups -- will be made public at the end of March, he said.

Meanwhile, Brazil has accepted FIFA's apology after secretary general Jerome Valcke told journalists the country needed a "kick up the backside" to be ready in time for the 2014 World Cup.

Brazil's Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said he accepted both Valcke's apology and a letter sent by Blatter in a sign that cooperation between the two entities was back on track.

He added that these incidents must not be repeated, so that preparations for the four-yearly tournament continue to progress.

Rebelo also said Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff had agreed to meet with Blatter, although no date has been set.

FIFA has repeatedly expressed concerns over the pace of work in Brazil on both stadiums and broader infrastructure such as airports. But last week, Valcke used unusually strong language.

In his apology letter, Valcke explained that in French, "se donner un coup de pied aux fesses" means "to pick up the pace." Unfortunately, he wrote, the expression had been translated so that in Portuguese it used much "stronger words."

The translation was a literal one.

Also this week, a congressional Commission approved a World Cup bill that would allow the sale of beer at games -- one of the main points of contention with FIFA. It still needs to be approved by both houses.

CNN's Shasta Darlington in Brazil also contributed to this story.

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