FIFA President Sepp Blatter has rejected calls for him to resign despite admitting on Thursday that the corruption scandal engulfing soccer’s governing body has brought shame to the sport.
Making his first public appearance since Wednesday’s dramatic events, which were triggered by a US-led probe into allegations of rampant bribe-taking, Blatter said in Zurich that there is no room “for corruption of any kind”.
The turbulence of the last two days, which included the arrest of leading soccer officials at their luxury Swiss hotel, has brought “shame and humiliation” to world soccer, Reuters quoted Blatter as saying in a speech at the opening of a FIFA Congress.
“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,” the FIFA chief said.
The comments came as Michel Platini, who heads Europe’s soccer confederation UEFA, said on Thursday that he had urged Blatter to quit, but the 79-year-old had refused.
Blatter is standing for a fifth term as FIFA president in an election Friday, with Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan his only challenger.
Platini said 45 or 46 of UEFA’s 53 member associations will vote for Prince Ali.
But it appears that Blatter still commands enough of FIFA’s 209 national associations to secure victory, Reuters noted.
Swiss authorities have announced a criminal investigation into the awarding of the next two World Cups, which are being hosted in Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.
Meanwhile blue-chip sponsors sponsors expressed growing concern at events unfolding in Zurich.
In a statement, credit card giant Visa 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.”
German sportswear company Adidas said FIFA should do more to establish transparent compliance standards.
Coca-Cola Co. said the charges had “tarnished the mission and ideals of the FIFA World Cup and we have repeatedly expressed our concerns about these serious allegations”.
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