The accusations that Qatar paid for votes when FIFA chose Qatar in 2020 will be discussed at the two-day Congress, the embattled 78-year-old Swiss official said. Sponsors raise pressure on FIFA over Qatar claims (JPN/Agencies)
The growing scandal has threatened to taint the opening of the latest World Cup in Sao Paulo on Thursday.
FIFA faces mounting pressure as five of its six major sponsors have called for a thorough investigation of the allegations largely made by the British media.
Blatter, who is set to tell the Congress that he will stand for a fifth four-year term, told a meeting of the African Football Confederation (CAF) that there were sinister motivations behind the campaign.
Blatter hit out at the "storm against FIFA" over the 2022 World Cup and the "discrimination and racism" at the heart of the attacks. He said the allegations "really make me sad".
CAF members -- who along with their long-time president Issa Hayatou have been accused in British media of accepting Qatar's money -- gave Blatter a rousing reception and also slammed the allegations.
"(CAF) condemns the strategy of using African sport movements and its leaders as scapegoats by those who are trying, at all costs, to acquire a good conscience for themselves," it said in a statement.
CAF "expresses its gratitude to FIFA president Mr Joseph S Blatter, for his continuous involenment in the development of football in Africa and his personal commitment in the fight against racism."
Blatter was equally defiant at the Asian Football Confederation adding that "I still have the fire inside" to lead FIFA.
Blatter's attack on the corruption charges echoed those of Asia's top Olympic official Kuwaiti Sheikh Ahmad al-Sabah, who said last week that the allegations were a racist attack on Arabs.
"We will confront all such acts of racism and we will stand with Qatar so that no-one removes its right to organize the 2022 World Cup in Doha," said the Sheikh, president of the Olympic Council of Asia and a highly-influential figure within the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Sponsors Adidas, Sony, Visa and Coca-Cola on Sunday called on soccer's rulers to deal thoroughly with allegations of bribery to secure the 2022 World Cup for Qatar, an issue overshadowing this week's kickoff in Brazil.
With its four yearly showpiece event only four days away, soccer's governing body FIFA is on the defensive, conducting an internal investigation into the decisions to hold the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 Cup in Qatar. Both countries have denied any wrongdoing.
Qatar's bid has attracted controversy from the outset because of the extreme summer heat during the months when the Cup is played and the tiny country's lack of domestic soccer tradition. If it goes ahead, the tournament is expected to be switched to a date later in the year, creating scheduling headaches for broadcasters and European club soccer clubs.
The signs of unease from some of FIFA's paymasters will raise pressure on the body, led by its 78-year-old Swiss president Sepp Blatter, to get to the bottom of the allegations and tackle underlying concerns about how it is run.
"The negative tenor of the public debate around FIFA at the moment is neither good for football nor for FIFA and its partners," said German sportswear company Adidas, which has signed up as FIFA sponsor until 2030, extending a partnership dating back to 1970.
"Anything that detracts from the mission and ideals of the FIFA World Cup is a concern to us," a company statement read.
"But we are confident that FIFA is taking these allegations very seriously and is investigating them thoroughly through the Investigatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee.
"The FIFA World Cup is a platform that unites people all over the world, inspiring and celebrating the world's most popular sport while creating memorable experiences for athletes and fans. We believe that through our partnership and continued involvement with FIFA we can help foster optimism and unity, while making a positive difference in the communities we serve."
Britain's Sunday Times newspaper has over the last two weekends printed what it says are leaked documents showing bribes were paid to secure the event for Qatar, which Qatar denies.
Former U.S. prosecutor Michael Garcia, leading FIFA's internal investigation, is due to report in July, around a week after this year's World Cup final.
FIFA issued a statement from the body's marketing director Thierry Weil as it sought to take heat out of the situation.
"We are in constant contact with our Commercial Affiliates including Adidas, Sony and Visa and they have 100 percent confidence in the investigation currently being conducted by FIFA's independent Ethics Committee," Weil said.
"Our sponsors have not requested anything that is not covered by the on-going investigation by the Ethics Committee."
Payment card company Visa, which has a contract as a FIFA sponsor until 2022, said it was monitoring the progress of the Garcia investigation.
"We expect FIFA will take the appropriate actions to respond to the report and its recommendations," it said in a statement.
Japanese consumer goods company Sony took a similar line, saying said it expected the allegations to be "investigated appropriately".
The accusations that Qatar paid for votes when FIFA chose Qatar in 2020 will be discussed at the two-day Congress, the embattled 78-year-old Swiss official said.
Sponsors raise pressure on FIFA over Qatar claims