FIFA president Sepp Blatter on Friday deflected blame from himself over recent corruption scandals that have undermined the governing body of world football as he called the elections for president of the organisation a “sideshow”.
The 79-year-old Blatter recently announced what was interpreted as his resignation on June 2 and FIFA are set to hold an Executive Committee meeting on July 20 which will lay down the timetable to determine who will lead the body forward.
Sources close to Blatter say he has not ruled out the prospect of going back on his decision to step down.
“In European circles there is only one topic: the presidential election,” Blatter, who has been in power since 1998, wrote in his column in the in-house publication FIFA Weekly.
“However, the reforms we have not yet been able to implement are in fact more important. This requires a clear statement of intent on the part of the Executive Committee and Congress.
“The popular outrage concerning FIFA in recent weeks has mainly been directed at me personally. I have no problem with this. I can defend myself.
“However, I would appeal for fairness: I bear no responsibility for members of a government (the FIFA Executive Committee) I have not myself elected. The FIFA President must work with the people allotted him by the confederations. I therefore also bear no responsibility whatsoever for the behaviour of these ExCo members on their home turf.”
On Thursday, FIFA handed down a life ban to American Chuck Blazer, a central figure in the corruption scandal in just one of many allegations against members accepting millions of dollars in bribes.
Blazer has given evidence to US authorities investigating football corruption and is gravely ill in a New York hospital suffering from cancer.
Blazer has acknowledged to US investigators that he took more than $11 million (£7.08m, 9.8m euros) in bribes from 2005 to 2010.
He has been working undercover for US prosecutors since 2011 even wearing wire taps to record conversations with other FIFA officials.
Seven FIFA officials were detained in a raid on a Zurich hotel on the eve of a FIFA congress in May at which Blatter won re-election.
The awardings of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively have also come into question amidst claims of widespread bribery.
“We cannot change people’s morals, but we can better control human behaviour. This is where I will invest my energy,” continued Blatter as he attacked his enemies in Europe.
“I have worked for FIFA for 40 years and have experienced almost everything there is to experience in football.
“However, there remains one thing I still do not understand. When we introduce a change to the Laws of the Game, it is immediately enforced and adhered to by everyone.
“Yet when the very same FIFA moves to implement an ethical code of conduct for the entire organisation, it is blocked by all the confederations with the exception of Asia. To this day, UEFA has no ethics committee, and the German association has no ethics committee.
“Filling the office of President is ultimately only a sideshow, albeit staged in a glaring spotlight.
“I hope the Congress is not blinded by this, because FIFA’s future is at stake, no more and no less.” concluded Blatter.