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Listen to all voices, says Sepp

Sao Paulo: Fifa president Sepp Blatter used a speech to the annual Congress of world soccer’s ruling body on Wednesday to extol the sport’s ability to change lives, but he side-stepped specific reference to the scandals surrounding the organisation.

The 78-year-old Swiss has another opportunity later in the day to address allegations of bribery surrounding Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup that have marred the buildup to this year’s tournament in Brazil.

Fifa meetings in Sao Paulo this week, ahead of the World Cup opening tie between Brazil and Croatia on Thursday, have also underlined deep divisions within the body over whether Blatter should run for re-election in 2015.

His opening remarks to delegates from Fifa’s 209 member associations were general in nature and focussed mainly on the benefits of Fifa and soccer more generally.

Blatter said Fifa had a responsibility to ensure the sport was a force for positive change, and asked what the organisation should do to make that happen.

“The answer is easy and simple ... we must lead by example and we must listen to all voices, we must be responsible and upright in all that we do, we must do the right thing even if that comes at a cost,” he said.

One specific area he did discuss was racism in soccer.