ZURICH (AP) - Text from FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s speech on Thursday at the opening of the FIFA congress:
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 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 a 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 organization, 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 tiny minority, like in society. But like in society they must be catched (sic) and held responsible for their actions. Football cannot be the exception to the rule. That is our responsibility at FIFA, and we will cooperate with all authorities to make sure 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 will follow. But it is necessary to begin to restore trust in our organization.
Let this be the turning point. More needs to be done to make sure everyone in football behaves responsibly 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, deserve so much more. And we must respond tomorrow. Tomorrow, the congress, we have the opportunity to begin on what will be a long and difficult road to rebuilding trust. We have lost their 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.
And that brings me to tonight’s ceremony. You have seen that the opening ceremony is about football. The spirit of the game. The aspect of football that make it so loved by so many. Our cast of artists and dancers will bring the spirit to life tonight and I thank them all for their hard work in preparing for this show under these special circumstances. I’m sure you will agree they are a great and talented cast and crew. It is important that we do not lose sight of the spirit of football. I hope that this show will remind us what we are fighting for, and why we must continue to fight for positive change in football even when some among us let us down.
So please enjoy our show, enjoy it. But I ask you also to reflect on why a vast majority, we are all in football and we like this game, not for greed, not for exploit (sic), not for power, but because of love for the game, for this game, to serve others and to achieve positive change through responsible leadership.
Solidarity and unity is asked for the game, for the world, for peace.
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