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FIFA to England: Get Over Your Western, Christian Arrogance?!

Sepp Blatter said England should stop acting like sore losers.

The embattled FIFA president denounced the most high-profile loser of the 2018 World Cup and defended the world soccer governing body. He called England the "motherland of fair play," but said the country was "arrogant" after losing the bid.

"Now some of them are proving to be bad losers themselves," he said in an interview with a Swiss magazine. "I sense in some reactions a little bit of arrogance of the western, Christian kind."

FIFA awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively. That left England and the United States, considered by many the favorites till the end, with dashed hopes -- and many suspicions.

Corruption allegations swirled in the weeks leading up to last Thursday's vote. FIFA's ethics court suspended two of Blatter's executive committee colleagues from participating after a British newspaper reported bribe-taking and vote-rigging.

Blatter then reminded FIFA voters immediately before polling about media "evils" during the World Cup campaign.

That's when British executives cried foul, suggesting that England and the United States should boycott the next World Cup vote.

Blatter fiercely defended his organization.

"I'll say it clearly: there is no systematic corruption at FIFA. That's nonsense," he said. "We are financially clean and transparent."

He added that FIFA chose the riskiest, most expensive bids, which saw the World Cup hosting rights awarded to Eastern Europe and the Middle East for the first time.

"It's my philosophy to drive forward the expansion of football. The next regions that we need to conquer would be China and India," Blatter said. "Football has become a political matter. Heads of state court me. Football has become a monster, but it's a positive monster."

Blatter dismissed suggestions that FIFA officials are tempted to cash in on soccer's global popularity.

"Nobody can come along and simply hold out their hand. There are no rotten eggs," he said.

Three days before the vote, Britain's state broadcaster, the BBC, and newspapers in Switzerland and Germany alleged that three long-standing members of FIFA's ruling committee took kickbacks from its former marketing partner in the 1990s.

Blatter dismissed the alleged payments as insignificant.

"Fifteen years ago, there were apparently payments to foreign FIFA officials that weren't even illegal at the time and were even tax deductible," he said, adding that the ethics panel now monitored such behavior.

While defending FIFA's system of choosing World Cup hosts, Blatter said the organization he has led for 12 years would now "look inward" before making changes.

"We can't go on like this. We need to improve our image," he said. "We also need to set some things straight inside FIFA."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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