Sepp Blatter: Corruption scandal has brought shame and humiliation on football
Sepp Blatter refused to take the blame for the latest corruption scandal to befall Fifa, but acknowledged he would be held "ultimately responsible" by football fans.
The embattled Fifa president was speaking for the first time since the arrest of 14 officials and executives by US and Swiss authorities on corruption charges on Wednesday morning.
In an address to the Fifa Congress, which is likely to re-elect Blatter as president tomorrow, the 79-year-old admitted the events had "cast a long shadow" over the sport but said that his re-election could help rebuild trust in the sport.
Here is the full transcript of his address:
“You will agree with me, these are unprecedented and difficult times for Fifa. The events of yesterday have cast a long shadow over football and over this week’s congress.
“Actions of individuals, if proven, bring shame and humiliation on football and demand action and change from us all.
“We cannot allow the reputation of football and Fifa to be dragged through the mud any longer. It has to stop here and now.
“I know many people hold me ultimately responsible for the actions and reputation of the global football community, whether it’s a decision for the hosting of the World Cup, or a corruption scandal.
“We, or I, cannot monitor everyone all of the time. If people want to do wrong, they will also try to hide it. But it must fall to me to bear the responsibility for the reputation and well-being of our organisation and to find a way forward to fix things.
“I will not allow the actions of a few to destroy the hard work and integrity of the vast majority of those who work so hard for football.
“I must stress that those who are corrupt in football are in a thin minority, like in society. But, like in society, they must be caught and held responsible for their actions.
“Football cannot be the exception to the rule. That is our responsibility as Fifa and we will co-operate with all authorities to make sure than anyone involved in wrongdoing, from top to bottom, is discovered and punished.
“There can be no place for corruption of any kind. The next few months will not be easy for Fifa. I’m sure more bad news may follow. But it is necessary to begin to restore trust in our organisation.
“Let this be the turning point. More needs to be done to make sure everyone in football to make sure everyone behaves responsibility and ethically, and everywhere also outside of the field of play, where there is no referee, no boundaries and no time limit.
“Football, the fans, the players, the clubs, the world, deserves so much more and we must respond.
“Tommorrow, the congress, we have the opportunity to begin on what will be a long and difficult road to rebuilding trust.
“We have lost that trust, at least a part of it, and we must now earn it back. We must earn it back through the decisions we make, through the expectations we place on each other and through the way we behave individually.”
He later added: “The vast majority, we are all in football and we like this game, not for greed, not for exploitation, not for power, but the cause of love for the game, for this game.”
Michel Platini has not ruled out the possibility of a World Cup boycott by UEFA members if Sepp Blatter is re-elected as FIFA president on Friday.
Platini, the president of European football's governing body, urged Blatter to stand down when the pair met on Thursday amid fresh FIFA corruption allegations emerging from separate inquiries by the US Department of Justice and the Swiss government.
Blatter refused to quit and still intends to stand against Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein in Friday's presidential vote.
Platini said UEFA would unite behind Prince Ali and admitted that, if the 79-year-old Blatter was to win a fifth term in office, UEFA would have some tough decisions to make when its members meet again in Berlin next week before the Champions League final.
Asked if a boycott of FIFA competitions was a possibility, Platini said: "UEFA associations will meet in Berlin next week. We will be open to all options."
Pressed further on the prospect of a World Cup boycott, Platini added: "There may be proposals. I honestly don't wish that."