KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Sepp Blatter opened his new, fifth term at the head of world football federation FIFA by promising to “to try to resolve the problems we are facing today.”
Blatter was addressing the international media for the first time since reclaiming the FIFA presidency but aware that a first-round knockout was denied him by a backlash over the corruption revelations in midweek.
He also wasted no time in seeking to cast a share of the responsibility on the regional confederations who choose all the other members of the FIFA executive committee.
Blatter said: “I will take responsibility for the storm but I will share it with the executive committee which met today because it is the government which needs to take responsibility for FIFA and not only the president.”
Reverting to favoured seafaring metaphors, he added: “We have started discussing things today and will make strides forward to take our boat back into calmer waters and finally take the ship at the end of my term of office into a situation of tranquillity and happiness with a strong FIFA a and a beautiful FIFA.”
If Blatter was suggesting that this will be his last term then no-one, even though he would be 83 in 2019, will make the mistake of accepting his words at face value.
His failure to follow through on his 2011 promise to end his reign this year was one of the aggravating factors which prompted UEFA’s vain, late attempt to unseat him.
Blatter suggested that the “storm” of corruption allegations raised by the United States Justice Department “has not obtained hurricane strength.” However he renewed suggestions that there might be more to come.
He said: “We will work with our ethics committee and disciplinary committee and the associations committee but also with the audit and compliance committee. That way we will avoid future similar situations where there are surprises that catch us on the back foot.
“These crimes which have been committed are related to north and south America and a marketing company has been mentioned so I do not see how [FIFA] could be directed affected by this.”
He also claimed that the record of the last few years demonstrated that FIFA’s self-policing methods were working, saying: “We have always tried, in my tenure of office, to eliminate all these elements or individuals.
“They have been caught by our ethics committee and, if you go back, you can see how many members have left FIFA by themselves or after being castigated by one of our committees.”
Around half the executive committee members who voted the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively have since left the game, either through suspension or at their own volition.
** FIFA president Sepp Blatter will meet executive leaders of the major World Cup sponsors in the coming weeks to allay their concerns after judicial events last week in Zurich and New York.