By Chris Wright
With his minions being arrested en masse and his sponsors severing ties left, right and centre, FIFA president Sepp Blatter stepped up to the podium at the organisation’s annual Congress meeting this afternoon and delivered a speech for the ages.
In short, it was exactly the kind of not-quite-apologetic, buck-passing corporate waffle everybody was expecting it to be, with the Swiss dumpling blaming all of his reeling organisation’s newly-unearthed ills not on himself, but in turn on nobody, then on a small group of rogue officials, then on everybody, and then on society in general.
Here are the salient quotes:
“These are unprecedented and difficult times for FIFA. The events of yesterday have cast a long shadow over football.”
“Actions of individuals, if proven, bring shame and humiliation on football and demand action and change from us all.”
“We cannot allow the reputation of football and Fifa to be dragged through the mud any longer. It has to stop here and now.”
“I know many people hold me ultimately responsible for the actions and reputation of the global football community, whether it’s a decision for the hosting of the World Cup, or a corruption scandal [but] I cannot monitor everyone all of the time.”
“If people want to do wrong, they will also try to hide it…I will not allow the actions of a few to destroy the hard work and integrity of the vast majority of those who work so hard for football.”
“I must stress that those who are corrupt in football are in a thin minority, like in society. But, like in society, they must be caught and held responsible for their actions.”
“There can be no place for corruption of any kind. 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. More needs to be done to make sure everyone in football behaves responsibly and ethically. Football, the fans, the players, the clubs, the world, deserves so much more and we must respond.”
“We have lost that trust, at least a part of it, and we must now earn it back. We must earn it back through the decisions we make, through the expectations we place on each other and through the way we behave individually.”
“The vast majority, we are all in football and we like this game, not for greed, not for exploitation, not for power, but the cause of love for the game, for this game.”
“Football deserves so much more and we must respond.”
“We like this game … not for greed, not for exploiting, not for power, but because of the love of the game. Solidarity and unity is asked for the game, for the world, for peace.”
And this little beauty came after Blatter was stopped by Channel 4 news cameras as he was waddling off stage:
“Surely it’s time to go, Mr President?” questions the interviewer.
“How are you?” comes the response.
Astounding. The full transcript is available here.