AP Sources: Blatter calls Rogge to apologize

Posted Jan. 12, 2011, at 3:25 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 12, 2011, at 3:49 p.m.

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — FIFA President Sepp Blatter apologized to IOC President Jacques Rogge on Wednesday for criticizing the Olympic body and saying it handled its finances “like a housewife,” officials familiar with the situation said.

Five senior International Olympic Committee officials told The Associated Press that Blatter called Rogge on Wednesday morning to express regret for the remarks. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the confidential nature of the call.

Rogge told the AP he couldn’t confirm the phone call, but said, “The incident is now over.”

Blatter, who is also an IOC member, stunned IOC officials last week with his widely publicized barbs at a media round-table in Doha, Qatar.

Defending FIFA against corruption allegations, Blatter claimed the IOC “has no transparency” in its financial accounts.

“The IOC does it like a housewife,” Blatter said. “She receives some money and she spends some money.”

Blatter also described the IOC as a “club.”

“In the 115 members of the IOC, only 45 are directly linked to sport,” he said. “All the others, the 70 members are individually appointed members. If you need to know where in the world you still have princes, princesses and kings, then you go to the list of members of the IOC. You will find a lot of them.”

Several of the officials who spoke to the AP on Wednesday said Blatter told Rogge some of his remarks had been “misinterpreted.”

FIFA could not immediately confirm Wednesday that Blatter called Rogge. Blatter was traveling to the Oceania Football Confederation congress in American Samoa.

Blatter has been an IOC member since 1999 because of his role as FIFA president.

The IOC responded to his comments last week by saying its finances “are sound, professionally managed and transparent.”

Blatter’s comments were discussed at an IOC executive board dinner Tuesday night, according to several members who attended. They asked not to be named because it was a private event.

The IOC was planning to send Blatter a letter asking for an explanation, but that is no longer necessary after his call to Rogge, the officials said.

Blatter also raised eyebrows here by saying he expected the 2022 World Cup in Qatar would be moved to the winter months to avoid the summer heat. That would mean the World Cup would be held close to the Winter Olympics, which would normally take place in February.

The exchange with Blatter comes as the IOC ethics commission studies evidence provided by the BBC after it broadcast allegations that FIFA officials — some with Olympic connections — took kickbacks from the soccer body’s former marketing partner in the 1990s.

The BBC alleged that secret payments were received by three long-standing members of FIFA’s ruling committee, including African confederation president Issa Hayatou in 1995. Hayatou, from Cameroon, became an IOC member in 2001.

The program also alleged that kickbacks were paid to former FIFA President Joao Havelange. The 94-year-old Brazilian is the IOC’s longest-serving member with 47 years in the movement.

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