Fifa president Sepp Blatter talked about the need for ‘integrity’ during a speech at the Fifa congress on Tuesday in Sao Paulo. Fabrice Coffrini / AFP
Fifa president Sepp Blatter talked about the need for ‘integrity’ during a speech at the Fifa congress on Tuesday in Sao Paulo. Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

Sepp Blatter calls for ‘integrity’ during Fifa congress speech

Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, called for "integrity" as he opened the football governing body's congress on Tuesday and geared up for a controversial bid for a fresh term as president.
Blatter said the organisation must move forward in a changing world in which football had become a "multibillion dollar" industry with "powerful opportunities".
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"Our world is changing, our game is changing, our organisation must also change. It is our duty to keep football going forward," Blatter told hundreds of delegates in Sao Paulo on the day before the World Cup finals were to begin. "It is our duty to lead by example and behave like an example, with integrity."
The build-up to the congress has been marred by allegations that millions of dollars in bribes were paid to help Qatar secure the 2022 World Cup.
Blatter, 78, set out his "vision" for Fifa in a 22-minute speech but did not confirm his long-mooted intention to stand for a fourth term. He was to address congress again later yesterday.
"My vision for Fifa in this changing world is this: we must become one of today's pioneers of hope, we must carry the flame of honesty and responsibility and also respect," he said.
The veteran Swiss also hailed Fifa's growth and said delegates must be "pioneers of hope".
"The job of managing international football and steering it on the right path is becoming more complex but also more challenging," Blatter said. "With success and the higher profile we have now we have more pressure and more responsibility."
The financial director of soccer's world governing body reported a "surplus" of US$72 million (Dh264.5m) in 2013, taking reserves to $1.432 billion. Fifa promised additional payments of $250,000 to each of the 209 member associations and $2.5m to the six regional confederations.
"If 2014 goes as planned, and we have no reason to doubt it won't, each member will receive $500,000 and each confederation will receive $4.5 million," Markus Kuttner said.
A first European victory in a World Cup hosted in Latin America is highly unlikely, the Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said on Wednesday.
No Europe side has won a World Cup played in the western hemisphere. "Very, very difficult," the German said.
"It cannot be a coincidence that a European team couldn't win a World Cup held in South America. Not in Uruguay, not in Argentina and for sure not in Brazil."
Still, Hitzfeld named Germany and Spain, along with Brazil and Argentina, as favourites to win the tournament.
Fears about the fitness of the forward Danny Welbeck were realised on Wednesday when he missed a training session ahead of his side's opening match against Italy.
British newspapers have reported the Manchester United player has a thigh injury. Also absent at the training session in Rio de Janeiro was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who is fighting to regain fitness after suffering a knee injury in a match against Ecuador last week.
Paulo Bento, Portugal's coach, was pleased with Cristiano Ronaldo's return to the side in a 5-1 friendly victory over Ireland in the US.
"Ronaldo played a good match, especially when considering that he has not played competitively for two weeks," Bento said.
"Players like him are important for any team and that is the case with ourselves, too. It's good to have him back."
Ronaldo made an assist and hit the post in his 65 minutes on the pitch. He had been hampered for two weeks by leg injuries, but he seemed at full speed in his return.
He was replaced by Pepe, who also returned from injury in Portugal's final match before departing for Brazil.
Javi Martinez believes that Spain must stop the Netherlands attacking trio of Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder to win their Group B encounter on Friday in Salvador.
Spain defeated the Netherlands 1-0 in the 2010 World Cup final. Martinez said his Bayern Munich teammate Robben is particularly dangerous.
"Not only with the national team, but at Bayern as well, Robben is very strong on the counter-attack. He moves well into space and we have to control him."
Spain lost their opening match, to Switzerland, in 2010 and Martinez hopes they will avoid another stumble.
"The pressure that comes with losing the first game is logical because you have no margin for error," he said.
Luiz Felipe Scolari's nephew has died in a car accident, the second death to hit the family of Brazil's coach as he oversees his team's preparations for the World Cup.
His brother in law died last month and Scolari attended the funeral, but Brazil officials said he would not have time to attend the funeral of his nephew, Tarcisio Joao Schneider, 48, who died when his car drifted over the median and collided with a lorry in the southern state of Rio Grande dol Sul.
Mats Hummels is the most popular member of Germany's 23-man World Cup squad, according to a study carried out by the University of Hoffenheim.
"Hummels personifies the charismatic competitor who is always calm and fair," said Markus Voth, who led the survey of 929 people.
Hummels finished ahead of Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm and Thomas Muller. Hummels's Dortmund teammate Kevin Grosskreutz finished last in the survey.
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