FIFA president Sepp Blatter has proclaimed before its 65th congressional meeting here that “there can be no place for corruption of any kind” in the organisation that he has led since 1998, and that the trust that has been lost must now be earned back.
Ahead of the presidential elections here on Friday, Blatter spoke of how recent, difficult times have been unprecedented for FIFA and “the events of yesterday have cast a long shadow over football and this congress. They bring shame and humiliation to football and demand change from us all. We cannot allow the reputation of FIFA to be dragged through the mud any longer”, reports Efe.
On Wednesday, several former and current senior FIFA officials were arrested on charges of corruption as part of two parallel investigations, one requested by United States authorities and another by Switzerland.
Blatter insisted that it was his responsibility to find solutions to problems but that he could not be held responsible for the misconduct perpetrated by those who corrupt the sport. He refused to comment on the many calls for him to resign as president.
“I know many people hold me ultimately responsible. I cannot monitor everyone all the time,” he said before showing his and FIFA’s willingness to cooperate with the attorney general’s investigation in the US, which led to the arrest of seven FIFA executives.
He said that the coming months would not be easy for FIFA because of what may be discovered but the priority was to restore confidence in the organisation.
“More needs to be done to make sure everyone in football behaves responsibly and ethically. Each of those involved will be punished. Football deserves so much more and we must respond. At the Congress, we will begin a long and difficult road. We have lost trust, at least part of it, and we must now earn it back,” he added.
Blatter, who has led the organisation since 1998, will seek a fifth term as FIFA president in Friday’s elections against Jordanian Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, the only rival candidate left after Dutch football president Michael van Praag and Portuguese former player Luis Figo withdrew last week.