Sepp Blatter is expected to be re-elected president of FIFA on Friday. In his speech to the FIFA congress on before the election, he was as defiant as ever as more people call for his resignation in the wake of the arrests of several high-ranking FIFA officials earlier this week.
After the scandal broke, the most prominent voice calling for Blatter’s resignation came from UEFA president Michel Platini.
Blatter refused and on Friday during his address to the FIFA congress he came to his own defence with a rambling 15-minute explanation for why he can’t be held responsible for the corruption within FIFA’s ranks.
His defence can be summed as thus: He can’t be responsible for everybody because “it’s impossible.”
“I am willing to accept that the president of FIFA is responsible for everything but I would like to share that responsibility with you or at the very least the executive committee here to my left. It’s your government, it’s our government … we are at a turning point. We need to pull together and move forward. We cannot constantly supervise everybody that is in football. In football we have 209 member associations under six confederations, but we have more than 300 million active participants, men and women, and with their family and friends we reach a figure of 1.6 billion people that are directly or indirectly touched by our game … we are popular, but popularity is not enough. With popularity comes responsibility. But how can everybody be responsible? That’s impossible … That is why we have a pyramid at FIFA and everything needs to trickle down to the national associations. But in the middle it needs to stop at the level of the confederations … the [disciplinary committees] cannot cover 300 million and all the fans throughout the world. That is impossible. In no country in the world is there a single court. We are talking about over a billion people. How can a single entity do all that? This needs to be understood. I need to make it be understood … You can’t just ask everybody to behave ethically just like that in the world in which we live.”
Of course, nobody is asking Blatter to be responsible for all the friends and family of anybody associated with the game of soccer or with FIFA. Rather, the people charged in this scandal include several high-ranking FIFA executives, including the current and former vice presidents.
In addition, the charges, if true, paint a picture of widespread and deeply rooted corruption that is present in FIFA in general and the one person sitting atop FIFA’s iron throne is Blatter.
Based on Blatter’s comments, not only is he not responsible, but nobody in FIFA should be held responsible.
Blatter went on to question the timing of the investigation, coming two days before the presidential election.
“I am not going to use the word ‘coincidence,'” said Blatter. “But I do have a small question mark.”
You can see Blatter’s entire speech at the 1:00.00 mark in the video below.
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