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After defying calls to quit, Blatter tries to settle dispute between Palestinian, Saudi FAs


ZURICH — After defying pleas from FIFA sponsors to quit immediately, President Sepp Blatter is continuing regular business at soccer's governing body, presiding over a dispute between football federations on Tuesday.

The 79-year-old Blatter is determined to stay in power until an emergency election in February, despite being under criminal investigation in Switzerland over alleged financial wrongdoing while running FIFA and at risk of being suspended by his organization's own ethics committee.

Returning to his more familiar role as a mediator, Blatter gathered the Palestinian and Saudi Arabian federations at FIFA's Zurich headquarters in an attempt to resolve a spat over a game venue.

"Blatter is functioning well and in a good mood with common sense, a sense of humor," Palestinian Football Union president Jibril Rajoub told The Associated Press.

According to Rajoub, Blatter halted a ruling by FIFA's World Cup organizing committee to order an Oct. 13 World Cup qualifier between the Palestinians and Saudi Arabians to be relocated from the West Bank to neighboring Jordan.

The Palestinians accuse Saudi Arabia, which hosted the first leg in Riyadh, of being wary of appearing too close to Israel by going through its security, leading to the decision to use a neutral venue.

"Blatter was clear, saying the decision that was circulated was invalid and illegal and that each national association has the right to play at home, including Palestine," Rajoub said.

The game has been postponed after Blatter's intervention, Rajoub said, explaining: "They need more time for deliberation and discussion."

FIFA did not respond to requests for comment.

Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee has told the AP that Blatter will no longer serve as one of its representative on the World Anti-Doping Agency's Foundation Board.

Although Blatter's 16-year-term as an IOC member ended in August after he did not seek re-election, the 79-year-old president's term on the WADA board ran through the end of 2015.

"The IOC is in the process of choosing a new member of the WADA Foundation Board," the Olympic body said in a statement. "Mr. Blatter is no longer an IOC member and will not represent the IOC during this time."

WADA said it is waiting to hear from the IOC who will replace Blatter on its decision-making body.

"We understand that Mr. Blatter is no longer an IOC Member," WADA told the AP. "We also understand that he will no longer be representing the IOC in one of its four Olympic Movement positions on WADA's foundation board."

FIFA is due to elect a new president in February after Blatter's decision to step down, soon after being re-elected in May for a fifth term amid Swiss and American investigations into soccer bribery.

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