Blatter says he has 'clear conscience' despite FIFA probes
BERLIN (AP) FIFA President Sepp Blatter has said in a magazine interview that he is not corrupt and that he has a ''clear conscience'' despite corruption investigations into world soccer's governing body.
''Whoever accuses me of being corrupt has to prove it to me first. But nobody can do that because I'm not corrupt,'' Blatter told Thursday's edition of German weekly Bunte, extracts of which were released Wednesday.
Four days after being re-elected for a fifth term, Blatter said on June 2 that he would step down amid a crisis provoked by American and Swiss federal investigations of corruption linked to FIFA.
American law enforcement officials have confirmed that Blatter is a target of their investigation into widespread bribery and racketeering linked to broadcast rights and hosting votes for international tournaments.
The 79-year-old told Bunte that he happily accepts ''fair and constructive criticism, also to consider what can be done differently. But when someone says, `Blatter is corrupt because FIFA is corrupt', I can only shake my head. Anyone who makes such claims without proof should be jailed.''
Blatter said that his faith helped him through the weeks since criminal investigations into FIFA officials began.
''I'm a believer. I also pray,'' said Blatter, who added that he had a golden cross that was blessed by Pope Francis.
The date for a new presidential election will be set at a FIFA executive committee emergency meeting on July 20 in Zurich.