Shame and humiliation brought on FIFA, says Blatter

Thu May 28, 2015 1:50pm EDT
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By Mike Collett

ZURICH (Reuters) - Shame and humiliation have been brought on FIFA following the turbulent events of the last two days which included the arrest of leading soccer officials at their Zurich hotel, the world soccer body's president Sepp Blatter said on Thursday.

Blatter, making his first public appearance since Wednesday's extraordinary events which critics said marked a new low for his federation, said there was no room "for corruption of any kind".

"The events of yesterday have cast a long shadow over soccer and this Congress," Blatter, who is standing for a fifth mandate in Friday's presidential election where Prince Ali bin Al Hussein is his only challenger, said in his opening speech to FIFA's annual Congress in Zurich.

"They bring shame and humiliation to soccer and demand change from us all. We cannot allow the reputation of FIFA to be dragged through the mud any longer."

Ignoring calls to step down because of the corruption scandal, Blatter said: "I know many people hold me ultimately responsible....(but) I cannot monitor everyone all the time. If people want to do wrong, they will also try to hide it."

Seven of the most powerful figures in global soccer were arrested on Wednesday in a dawn raid on a luxury hotel that FIFA used to host visiting officials, and face extradition to the United States on corruption charges.

The Swiss authorities also announced a criminal investigation into the awarding of the next two World Cups being hosted in Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.

U.S. authorities said nine soccer officials and five sports media and promotions executives faced corruption charges involving more than $150 million in bribes.   Continued...

FIFA President Sepp Blatter makes a speech during the opening ceremony of the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich, Switzerland, May 28, 2015. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann