seppSepp Blatter defended FIFA’s battered reputation Monday as the outgoing president insisted he is clean and there is no systemic corruption at world football’s governing body.

Blatter will officially step down in February amid two criminal investigations into the allegations of bribery and corruption at FIFA.

Seven FIFA officials, including the now suspended vice president and executive committee member, Jeffrey Webb, were among 14 people accused by the U.S. justice department in May of taking bribes of more than $150 million (129 million euros).

The bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, controversially awarded by FIFA to Russia and Qatar respectively, are also being probed by authorities in the United States and Switzerland.

Blatter, who has been FIFA president since 1998, was elected for a fifth term in May, but then shocked football by standing down as the corruption scandal intensified.

But the 79-year-old Swiss remains adamant he has done nothing wrong, claiming FIFA had been dragged down by the actions of rogue individuals.

“I know what I have done, what I have not done, I have my conscience and I know I’m an honest man. I am clean. I am not a worried man,” Blatter told the BBC.

“I did it because I wanted to protect FIFA. I can protect myself. I am strong enough.”

Asked if FIFA had corruption at its core, Blatter said: “That’s not true. This has been created.

“The institution is not corrupt, there is no corruption in football. There is corruption with individuals, there is not a general organized corruption.

“It is with people. The institution FIFA is not corrupt. People they are in FIFA, or they serve in FIFA, they may be.

“We have started with our reforms in 2011. It’s not the institution. That’s why I can’t understand when the media, the world media, say FIFA is corrupt.

“On the field of play it’s easy to control all the players because you have boundaries, a time limit, you have a referee. Outside of the field of play you don’t have that.

“Who can control 300 million directly, 1.6 billion indirectly? It’s impossible.”

Blatter also defended himself when quizzed about why he hadn’t exposed the behavior of his FIFA colleagues.

“The problem with FIFA is the composition of the executive committee,” he added.

“The executive committee is not elected by the same entity as the president so I have a government who have not been elected by the same entity and therefore this government is coming by election through the confederations.

“So now I have to take people, they’re not my people. And I shall be morally responsible for them? I cannot be. I can only put some hurdles so that it shall not be repeated.

“I cannot take the moral responsibility for the behavior of people.”


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