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Blatter: Scandal brought shame to football

The embattled 79-year-old Swiss national said that everyone in football must behave responsibly and ethically

Published: Updated:

Embattled FIFA President Sepp Blatter said on Thursday the corruption scandal surrounding the world soccer body had brought shame and humiliation to football.

In a defiant speech at the opening of a FIFA Congress in Zurich at which he expects to be re-elected president for a fifth term, Blatter said there could be no place for corruption of any kind in the game.

Seeking to distance himself from the scandal in which seven senior FIFA figures have been arrested in Switzerland on U.S. corruption charges, he said: “I cannot monitor everyone all the time. If people want to do wrong they will also try to hide it.”

He added that FIFA had lost trust and must earn it back, starting tomorrow. More needed to be done to make sure everyone in football behaves responsibly and ethically.

UEFA

On Wednesday, UEFA, the European confederation, issued a statement calling for the Congress, and the election of a new president to be postponed amid suggestions it might boycott the event, but the AFC, the Asian confederation, countered by continuing to support Blatter and saying the election should go ahead.

The crisis has also shown up deep divisions in the French football federation.

Michel Platini, the French president of UEFA and a firm opponent of Blatter, is backing Blatter’s presidential opponent Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan if Friday’s election goes ahead.

However the president of the French FA, Noel Le Graet, said he was backing Blatter as “he did not know Prince Ali”.

Les Murray of Australia, a former FIFA Ethics committee member, also called for Blatter to resign as have the FA chairmen of a number of leading European countries including England and Germany.

Sponsors

Meanwhile FIFA’s blue-chip sponsors, many of whom have solidly backed FIFA despite nearly 20 years of bribery and corruption allegations, appeared to be growing unexpectedly concerned at events unfolding in Zurich.

In an unusually strongly worded statement, Visa Inc said: “It is important that FIFA makes changes now, so that the focus remain on these going forward. Should FIFA fail to do so, we have informed them that we will reassess our sponsorship.”