KEIR RADNEDGE in ZURICH: Sepp Blatter had barely delivered his opening appeal for unity here today than FIFA Congress was disturbed by a small but noisy pro-Palestinian demonstration.
Two women in black shouted in protest at Israeli policies and unfurled a Palestinian flag before being ushered out of the building by security staff.
Blatter, minutes earlier, had commented on the agenda item under which Palestine’s football federation intended to call for the suspension of the Israel FA.
In his welcome address Blatter addressed immediately the police and justice authority assault actions earlier in the week in both Zurich and New York.
He acknowledged: “The events of last Wednesday have unleashed a storm and there was even a question whether this congress would take place or whether the agenda would be changed. I am appealing for unity and team spirit so we can move forward together.
“It may not always be easy but it is for this reason that we are here together today to tackle the problems that have been created. We are here to solve them.
“This we may not be able to do in a single day but we are startng and it will take some time but we will do it with you the representatives of the member associations because you, the national associations, are the ambassadors of our football.
“So let’s get down to brass tacks, concentrate on the work and not just talk about problems – let’s go and solve them. Let’s move forward.”
Blatter identified “important elements” such as the “need to move ahead . . . transparency” and then: “Where does our FIFA stand in the world?”
The 79-year-old provided the answers: “It is the fight against corruption, the fight against matchfixing, against racism and discrimination which we still have in our game and this hurts.”
Addressing the Palestine/Israel issue he cautioned: “We have a problem to solve where one national association has requested that another national association should be suspended.
“Under this particular point we should find a solution which will finally satisfy these two federations but mainly the Palestine federation.”
Minutes later the protesters showed that this was not enough.