MPs lash out at Blatter as Fifa crisis deepens

Dark night for football: corruption allegations have hurt Fifa's reputation
Dark night for football: corruption allegations have hurt Fifa's reputation

By Ian Dunt

MPs have waded into the row over the future of Fifa, arguing that Sepp Blatter's position "is not tenable".

The comments come after a statement from the Football Association (FA) saying tomorrow's presidential elections should be postponed until a reformist candidate can stand against the incumbent.

"Mr Blatter's position is not tenable," shadow sport secretary Ivan Lewis said.


"Under his leadership Fifa has lost all credibility and he is unfit to have any role in the future of the organisation. Tomorrow's election has no legitimacy and should be cancelled.

"There must now be an independent root-and-branch investigation into all aspects of Fifa's governance and a new leadership which can begin to rebuild the organisation's credibility and authority," he added.

Meanwhile, Tory MP Mark Field, who acts as vice-chair of the all-party group on football, said Mr Blatter had turned Fifa into an "international laughing stock".

"While I also agree with the FA's call that tomorrow's election be delayed, we should also use this crisis as a timely opportunity to reflect on the many problems swirling around our own national football bodies," he told politics.co.uk.

"The FA and Premier League should now pledge as a matter of urgency to put their own houses in order - the true fans of the national game have becme increasingly dismayed at the cynical culture of illegal payments, opaque ownership and disregard for the grassroots of the game over recent years as global TV money has dominated."

In the midst of an extraordinary crisis for football's world governing body, Mr Blatter told reporters: "I thought we were living in a world of fair play and unfortunately I see that this is not the case.

"Our pyramid of football is unstable on its base. Lets spend a moment of friendship and solidarity together and have a good time."

The FA, which had been criticised for abstaining from voting with a whimper rather than a bang earlier this month, showed considerably more confidence this morning when it seized on recent events to demand that the election be postponed.

"Postpone the election and give credibility to this process, so any alternative reforming candidate could have the opportunity to stand for president," FA chairman David Bernstein demanded in a statement this morning.

"Appoint a genuinely independent external party to make recommendations regarding improved governance and compliance procedures," he added.

"This has been a very damaging time for the reputation of Fifa and therefore the whole of football. To improve confidence in the way the game is governed at the very top, we believe these requests would be a positive step forward and the minimum that should take place."

The Scottish FA expressed their support for the statement.

"The events of the last two days, in particular, have made any election unworkable," chief executive Stewart Regan said.

The FA's intervention is the most significant political development in a day which saw many sponsors start to turn against the world football body.

Coca-Cola called the corruption claims "distressing and bad for the sport". Sportswear maker Adidas also voiced concerns.

In a statement, Emirates said that "like all football fans around the world, [it] is disappointed with the issues that are currently surrounding the administration of the sport".

Transparency International, the global anti-corruption organisation, also insisted the vote should be delayed.

The FA's relationship with Fifa was badly damaged after the 2018 World Cup bid debacle, when David Cameron, Prince William and David Beckham were humiliated in Zurich, receiving just two votes.

An email released by American and Caribbean region head Jack Warner this weekend suggests that Qatar, which won the right to hold the 2022, had 'bought' the win.

Mr Warner has been suspended from Fifa over bribery allegations, as has Mohamed Bin Hammam, head of Asian football, who was the only man standing against Mr Blatter.

In a spectacularly bad-tempered and poorly-received press conference yesterday, Mr Blatter insisted there was no crisis and that Fifa would deal with allegations of corruption internally.

"Football is not in a crisis. Football is in some difficulties and they will be resolved inside our family," he insisted to incredulous journalists, many of whom openly laughed at him.

Fifa has refused to respond to the FA statement.

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