FIFA president Sepp Blatter
spoke on Thursday for the first time since the raids of Wednesday morning by Swiss police in coordination with the FBI. Opening the
FIFA Congress in Zurich, he said the indictments against 14 FIFA officials and sports
brought shame and humiliation to soccer but rejected calls to step down ahead of Friday's election at which he is expected to re-elected to a fifth term.
"We cannot allow the reputation of football to be dragged through the mud and it has to stop here, now," he said. "Many people hold me ultimately
responsible for the global football community. I cannot monitor everyone all the time. If people want to do wrong, they will also try to hide it. It must fall to me to bear the responsibility for the
reputation and well-being of our organization and to find a way forward to fix things." CONCACAF.
Blatter continues to hold support from his traditional power bases in Asia and Africa. But UEFA is
expected to vote almost overwhelmingly for Prince Ali of Jordan, the only opponent left in the race. Its president, Michael
Platini, called for Blatter to resign.
"I have had enough," he said. "Enough is enough, too much is too much."
In perhaps the strongest public statement of
dissatisfaction with FIFA from its sponsors, Visa said it would reassess its support if changes weren't made.
With Concacaf president Jeffrey Webb
provisionally suspended by FIFA and Concacaf from all soccer activities for 90 days, Concacaf named Honduran Alfredo
as acting president.
U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati
, Mexican federation president Justino Compean
nd CSA president Victor Montagliani
have been named to a committee charged with "evaluating and sustaining" the confederation's business affairs.
Hawit, Concacaf's most senior vice president, has been charged with running Concacaf on a temporary basis for the second time. He was named interim president after Jack Warner
's exit in 2011.
The executive committee also placed general secretary Enrique Sanz
, who is battling leukemia, on a leave
of absence to begin immediately, and named deputy general secretary Ted Howard
has been appointed as acting general secretary. Howard had been acting general
secretary after the resignation of Chuck Blazer
and before Sanz's hiring. Sanz was an unindicted co-conspirator in the Federal indictment handed down in
Brooklyn, accused of participating in Webb's scheme to take millions of dollars in kickbacks from Traffic, Sanz's former employer.
“While we are profoundly disappointed by the
allegations made by authorities that again, Concaacf has been the victim of fraud, we remain committed to Concacaf’s goal to develop, promote and manage the game of soccer,” Hawit said.
“We have now taken the appropriate steps to maintain our operations and continue to deliver on our commitments to all of our constituents, including our fans, members as well as commercial and
broadcast partners. We also continue to cooperate with the ongoing investigation by governmental authorities, which have not placed any restrictions on our ongoing activities.”
-- In a statement, the Costa Rican federation, whose president Eduardo Li was among those arrested, issued a statement that it
would not vote for Blatter.