LONDON (AFP) - Fifa president Sepp Blatter has hit out at portrayals of world football's governing body as a corrupt cabal of ruthless parasites.
In a speech yesterday to the Oxford Union debating society at Britain's prestigious Oxford University, the 77-year-old said Fifa was more Robin Hood than Bond villain.
"Perhaps you think I am a ruthless parasite sucking the lifeblood out of the world and out of football! The Godfather of the Fifa gravy train! An out-of-touch, heartless schmoozer!" he said, according to The Independent newspaper.
"There are not many names that the media haven't thrown at me in the last few years. And I would be lying to you if it did not hurt, even if you know that it goes with the territory.
"You would have to have a heart of stone for it not to hurt. You ask yourself, what have I done?"
Defending Fifa, he told undergraduates that hosting the 2010 World Cup in South Africa had "changed people's perceptions and people's prejudices" while more money was going into women's football.
"There are those who will tell you that Fifa is just a conspiracy, a scam, accountable to nobody and too powerful for anyone to resist," the Swiss said.
"There are those who will tell you of the supposed sordid secrets that lie deep in our Bond villain headquarters in the hills above Zurich, where we apparently plot to exploit the unfortunate and the weak.
"They would have you believe that I sit in my office with a sinister grin, gently stroking the chin of an expensive, white Persian cat as my terrible sidekicks scour the earth to force countries to host the World Cup and to hand over all of their money," he said.
"You might have been led to believe Fifa is the evil Sheriff of Nottingham of football. But the truth is we have more in common with Robin Hood."
Blatter has been roasted in the British press in recent years, especially after England's failed bid to host the 2018 World Cup, in which they garnered just two votes out of 22 - one of them their own, as Russia won out.