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Friday 9 December 2016

I can't monitor everyone, says Blatter as Platini calls on him to quit now

congress

Fifa president Sepp Blatter showed no signs of bowing to international pressure to resign as he appeared for the first time since senior football officials were arrested over "rampant" corruption charges.

After mounting calls for him to step aside following the scandal, he insisted he "cannot monitor everyone all of the time".

Speaking on stage at the opening ceremony of FIFA's annual congress meeting in Zurich yesterday, he said: "I know many people hold me ultimately responsible for the action and reputation for the global football community, whether it is a decision for the hosting of a World Cup or a corruption scandal.

reputation

"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 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 the 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 the minority, like in society, but like in society they must be caught and held responsible for their actions."

His voice shook as he described the events of the last two days as an "unprecedented and difficult time for FIFA" and insisted corruption would be rooted out from "top to bottom".

"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 behaves responsibly and ethically and everywhere, also outside of the field of play, where there is no referee, no boundaries and no time limit."

Blatter drew the wrath of protesters in Zurich ahead of FIFA's 65th congress, where he is standing for re-election as the president of soccer's global governing body.

More than 20 people demonstrating in front of Hallenstadion in Zurich where the congress is being held and demanded that he resign.

"Victory for a beautiful game. Blatter Blatter have some shame!" the protesters chanted.

The demonstration was organised by Avaaz, an international civil organisation with more than 41 million members, to draw attention to labour laws in Qatar, host of the 2022 soccer World Cup.

The protesters, wearing blue worker suits and yellow hard hats, carried banners that read "Game over for Blatter" and "Give slavery the red card".

Earlier, Blatter rejected an emotional plea to resign from one of the world's soccer greats as the corruption scandal engulfing the game's governing body drew warnings from sponsors and political leaders.

As FIFA faced the worst crisis in its 111-year history, Michel Platini, the former French international who now heads UEFA, Europe's soccer confederation, said he had told Blatter to go but the 79-year-old had refused.

"I said, 'I'm asking you to leave, FIFA's image is terrible'. He said that he couldn't leave all of a sudden," Platini said, speaking after an emergency FIFA meeting in Zurich earlier in the day.

"I'm saying this with sadness and tears in my eyes, but there have been too many scandals. FIFA doesn't deserve to be treated that way."

anointed

Platini said 45 or 46 of UEFA's 53 eligible member associations would vote for Jordan's Prince Ali bin Al Hussein to succeed Blatter at an election due today.

But it appeared that Blatter still commanded enough of FIFA's 209 member associations and could expect to be anointed for a fifth term as president.

UEFA's stance was confirmed by John Delaney, FAI chief executive.

"There wasn't a vote taken, but Michel Platini will tell you UEFA is unified," he said.

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.

US authorities said nine football officials and five sports media and promotions executives faced corruption charges involving more than $150m (€137m) in bribes.

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