Sepp Blatter, president and feudal overlord of the Fifa fiefdom, made his first public appearance at the organisation's 65th Congress in Zurich on Thursday, promising to "earn back" trust as his empire crumbled about him.
The aging bureaucrat's role looked perilous following Wednesday’s indictment of 14 people, including members of Fifa’s executive committee, on charges of corruption by the US Department of Justice.
'We can no longer allow the name of Fifa to be dragged through the mud'
As he entered the event in Switzerland, a reporter from Channel 4 News asked Blatter why he had not yet resigned (video below). The question was ignored. No mea culpa followed, but an exhibition of sidestepping and blame-shifting, topped with an exit to raucous applause.
"You will agree with me that these are unprecedented and difficult times for Fifa,” said the 79-year-old, flanked by an army of flag-bearers.
"The events of yesterday have cast a long shadow over football and this week's Congress," he added, blaming the "actions of individuals" for bringing "shame and humiliation" on the global game. "We can no longer allow the name of Fifa to be dragged through the mud," he said.
On the arrests of Fifa executives, Blatter lamented: "If people want to do wrong, they will also try to hide it,” adding that it was his responsibility “to find a way to fix things."
"I will not allow the actions of a few to destroy the actions of those who work so hard for football,” he said. “Those who corrupt football are a minority, but must be caught."
"We have lost the trust and we must now earn it back," he concluded, before calling for “positive change in football” and, of course, “world peace.”
'Those who corrupt football are a minority, but must be caught'
Not since Iraq's Information Minister declared "there are no US tanks in Baghdad" (as a column of Abrams rolled by) had the world seen such chutzpah and audacity.
Blatter lives on, at least for another day as Uefa decide whether to boycott Friday's crucial presidential vote should the Swiss insist on remaining in charge. The long-serving president has so far rejected demands from Uefa chief Michel Platini to step down, and remains favourite to win a fifth term at the expense of candidate Prince Ali of Jordan on Friday.
Earlier on Thursday, Prime Minister David Cameron urged Blatter to quit amid calls to re-open the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding processes. Cameron's spokesman said the PM backed the comments of the Government's Culture Secretary when he described Fifa as a "deeply flawed and corrupt organisation”.
The Government also revealed it will meet with FA chairman Greg Dyke to discuss the "nuclear option" of pulling out of Fifa entirely in light of the corruption allegations. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also waded into the row, claiming the US-led investigation into Fifa is part of a plot to scupper his country's hosting of the 2018 World Cup.