FIFA president Sepp Blatter has responded to critics who he claims are out to tarnish football's governing body. He also blasted allegations centering on Qatar's 2022 hosting bid as being tied to racism and discrimination.
"There is a sort of storm against FIFA relating to the Qatar World Cup," Blatter said. "Sadly there's a great deal of discrimination and racism."
In the days leading to the World Cup, Blatter spoke to African football officials in Sao Paolo and assured the public that the latest controversy would be addressed at the FIFA Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday, ESPN reports.
The need to diffuse the allegations comes as major sponsors have made known their concerns over corruption allegations in Qatar's successful bid to host the 2022 tournament. Oil Company BP and the makers of Budweiser beer have been vocal of their desire to clear FIFA of any controversy leading up to this year's tournament.
The allegations have been intensified with the latest report by the Sunday Times last weekend regarding Mohamed bin Hammam lobbying for support for the Gulf state's bid to host the tournament. Blatter allayed fears of lowering confidence in the organization due to widespread allegations by The Sunday Times of corrupt payments of former leader Bin Hammam. The British newspaper has published a report exposing Bin Hammam's channeling of millions of dollars to Asian and African officials, buying influence for Qatar's 2022 World Cup campaign and his own FIFA presidential challenge to Blatter in 2011.
"I don't know what the reasoning is behind this but we must maintain unity," Blatter told the gathering of Asian Football Confederation members. "It is the best way to say to all the destructors in the world, they want to destroy not the game, but they want to destroy the institution."
Following these reports, support from advertisers has been steady but lukewarm due to the controversy. Adidas, one of FIFA's oldest backers has stated that the current atmosphere was "neither good for football nor for FIFA and its partners," while Sony confirmed that: "As a FIFA partner, we expect these allegations to be investigated appropriately."