FIFA president Sepp Blatter has condemned the “action of individuals” for bringing “shame and humiliation” on football in a corruption scandal.
But he said that although many held him “ultimately responsible” for the football community, he could “not monitor everyone all of the time”.
He was speaking at the opening of FIFA’s congress, a day after seven top officials were held in a US inquiry.
Blatter has faced calls to quit, but is seeking re-election on Friday.
Many of FIFA’s major sponsors have expressed concern over twin corruption investigations by both the US and Swiss authorities.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the FIFA congress in Zurich, Blatter said the events of the week had “cast a long shadow over football”.
In his first public appearance since the scandal broke, he said: “The actions of individuals bring shame and humiliation on football and demand action and change from us all.
“We cannot allow the reputation of football and FIFA to be dragged through the mud and it has to stop here and now.
“Many people hold me ultimately responsible for the … global football community … I cannot monitor everyone all of the time. If people want to do wrong, they will also try to hide it.”
But, he added: “It must fall to me to bear the responsibility for the reputation and well-being of our organisation and to find a way forward to fix things.”
Blatter admitted that the “next few months will not be easy; I am sure bad news will follow” but that with Friday’s vote, “we have the opportunity to begin on what will be a long and difficult road to rebuilding trust”.
Blatter had faced calls to resign, including from UK PM David Cameron and the head of European football’s governing body Uefa, Michel Platini.
Platini had earlier taken part in an emergency meeting with other FIFA confederation heads and Blatter.
Platini said he had asked Blatter “as a friend” to resign, saying: “I have had enough – enough is enough, too much is too much.” (bbc sport)