Sepp Blatter has told FIFA’s annual congress he had no way of monitoring “a tiny minority” of officials accused of corruption.
Blatter made his first public appearance since the stunning revelations events of Wednesday, when two separate FIFA-related criminal investigations were opened in the United States and Switzerland.
The 79-year-old, who is standing for a fifth term as president on Friday, said the actions of a few individuals, if proven, had left football’s governing body facing “a long and difficult road” to rebuilding trust.
“These are unprecedented and difficult times for FIFA,” he told Congress. “The events of yesterday have cast a long shadow over football and over this week’s congress.
“Actions of individuals, if proven, bring shame and humiliation on football and demand action and change from us all. We can not allow the reputation of FIFA to be dragged through the mud any longer.”
“I must stress that those who are corrupt in football are in a minority, as in society. But as in society they must be caught.”
“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.”
“Tomorrow, the congress, we have the opportunity to begin on the long and difficult road to rebuilding trust. We must earn it back through the decisions we make, the expectations we place on each other and the way we behave individually.”
“Many people hold me responsible … I can’t monitor everyone all of the time.”
“We will co-operate with all authorities to make sure all involved in wrongdoing is discovered and punished.”
“I will not allow the actions of a few to destroy the actions of those who work so hard for football.”