Blatter hits back at calls to step down

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has hit back at calls for him to step down next year, and called for focus on the upcoming World Cup instead.

Several UEFA officials have publicly stated their belief that the 78-year-old should not stand for re-election as head of football's global governing body due to the ongoing controversy surrounding FIFA's decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

However, Blatter - who became FIFA president in 1998 - has insisted he is not thinking about the future, instead concentrating on this year's World Cup, which begins when hosts Brazil take on Croatia on Thursday.

"All of what is linked with football and is so important nowadays, we will discuss it tomorrow and if there any problems, perhaps we can solve them tonight but now we want to now just be here in Sao Paulo for the opening ceremony of our congress," he told the FIFA Congress.

"What we need in this perturbed world, and through this World Cup and during the 32 days it is our wish, at least with our footballs, with our organisation of the institution that all belligerent activities should stop in this day.

"And beyond then should stop and then all would be focused on football connecting people and constructing bridges."