FIFA president Sepp Blatter said yesterday that mistakes had been made, but there was no point living with regrets after a year of “ups and downs” for soccer’s world governing body.
Speaking in Tokyo on the eve of the Club World Cup final between Barcelona and Brazil’s Santos, Blatter, who faced calls for his resignation last month over his comments on racism, vowed to carry on and strive to improve FIFA.
Asked by reporters if he had any regrets and would do anything differently after a year in which the powerful organization was bedeviled by accusations of corruption, he said: “Yes, but you can’t live with regrets.”
“You must look with a positive approach. I still have the energy to go forward. I believe myself that we can go forward,” he said.
“I said [to fellow FIFA members] that you can’t go back to the past and with regrets for the past. That’s what I’ve said,” he added.
It has been a turbulent year for FIFA with allegations of graft in the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and former Asian soccer chief Mohamed bin Hammam’s lifetime ban for allegedly trying to buy votes in the FIFA presidential election.
The 75-year-old Blatter, who has garnered a reputation for a long line of public relations gaffes, himself faced a storm of criticism when he said claims of racism on the pitch should be solved with a handshake.
He told media in the Japanese capital that the biggest mistake had been choosing the two World Cup hosts — Russia in 2018 and Qatar for 2022 — at the same time.
That had been “totally wrong” and “not the best,” he said.