ASUNCION, Paraguay: FIFA President Sepp Blatter said he will seek to reinstate fired Egypt football federation leaders, calling their dismissal "direct interference" by the Cairo government.
Blatter spoke Sunday in the Paraguay capital, where he attended a special congress of South American football officials aimed at toughening up rules against government intervention in football in the region.
The president of Egypt’s football federation and his board of directors resigned Saturday, having already been dismissed by the country’s prime minister, Kamal El-Ganzoury, following the riot at a game that left more than 70 dead.
The violence began when Al-Masry fans stormed the field following their team’s 3-1 win against Cairo-based Ahly and began attacking their rivals. Hundreds of Ahly fans were driven into a narrow stadium exit where they were crushed against a locked gate.
Blatter said the firing of federation president Samir Zaher and his leadership constituted "a direct interference in the organization of football."
"We will look to have the Egyptian federation reinstated and, naturally, see that this situation does not repeat itself," Blatter said, adding that the situation in Egypt is "very delicate."
FIFA officials speak often about keeping governments from meddling in football. But the world governing body has been also been criticized for contravening its own rules.
In an example often cited, the Chinese Football Association is an organ of the State General Administration for Sport, a government body that runs sports in the authoritarian country.
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko is a member of FIFA’s executive committee — a government official sitting in a top FIFA policy-making position.
Rustam Emomali, the son of Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, was recently appointed to the FIFA development committee.
In another matter, Blatter said he is confident Brazil would overcome any delays in organizing the 2014 World Cup.
"I have no doubt that the construction will be finished on time," Blatter said. "Brazil is a football country and there are lots of arguments, but at FIFA we have no doubt it will be a great World Cup."
FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke, speaking in Rio de Janeiro last month, rebuked Brazil officials for being behind schedule in stadium and infrastructure construction. Late last year, Valcke told Brazilian lawmakers that the building pace had to be stepped up.
"We are late, we can’t lose a day," he said.