KEIR RADNEDGE in SAO PAULO —- Sepp Blatter opened FIFA Congress here today with a vision of football extending its outreach not only through this world but, one day, to the planets and the galaxies.
Critics might think that the world federation has enough problems sorting out the manner in which its runs the game on this earth without looking forward to some sort of intergalactic empire but Blatter was seeking to put a positive gloss on the vista as he welcomed delegates from 209 national associations.
The 2014 World Cup opens tomorrow with Brazil taking on Croatia in the barely-completed Itaquera stadium on the outskirts of Sao Paulo and, for many, the football cannot come soon enough after all the wrangling over preparation promises unfulfilled and one scandal after another erupting from the corridors of power.
Blatter began by addressing “our duty to keep football going forward but also to keep our governance and our control not only on the level of FIFA but the level of the national associations and the level of the confederations. It is not only to develop the game it is also to ensure the integrity of the game and to protect the game, the game of the people.
“Football is not just a game. I don’t know if it is good or not it is a multibillion dollar business. It creates powerful opportunities but sometimes it creates controversial situations and some difficulties.
“So it is out duty to lead by example and to behave like an exampla e and bring integrity. It’s our obligation to be fair because we have this idea of fair play in our game and be fair not only on the field of play but outside it.
“It is easy to be fair in the field of play because you have boundaries, a referee and a time limit but outside the field of play you have none of these.”
Blatter reviewed the day’s agenda and pointed up issues to assist the development of the women’s game.
He said: “Football can give ladies and women and girls more rights than many parts of the world would ever offer to the female gender; football can be a great example.”
Blatter appealed for unity of purpose “for the benefit of our society.”
He concluded: “If our basic values of football – discipline, respect and fair play – could be accepted everywhere in the world then I would say we have realised our objective.#
“But the objective will never finish because our game, the game of the world, is empowering, is growing greater, is growing from north to west to east and south . . . and we shall wonder, one day, whether our game will even be played on other planets. Why not?”