Monday 27 March 2017

UEFA issue ultimatum to Blatter: Resign or face boycott of World Cup

Chris Green and David Connett

European national sides may pull out of the 2018 World Cup in Russia if Sepp Blatter is re-elected as the president of Fifa today, the head of Uefa warned, after the sport's most powerful man refused to resign despite the burgeoning corruption scandal.

As major sponsors distanced themselves from football's governing body, saying they had "profound" concerns about the gravity of the allegations it faced, Michel Platini said Uefa's 54 member countries had not ruled out a boycott of future Fifa tournaments.

"Uefa associations will meet in Berlin next week. We will be open to all options," he said, adding that "there may be proposals" for members to withdraw from Fifa competitions until Blatter stands down.

Blatter refused to step down yesterday despite the arrests of nine senior Fifa officials, who have been charged with accepting bribes and kickbacks totalling hundreds of millions of dollars.

The allegations have plunged football's governing body into the biggest crisis in its history.

In a defiant speech at Fifa's Zurich headquarters, Blatter said the charges had cast "a long shadow over football" and hinted that "more bad news will follow". But he insisted he was the right man to change the organisation from "top to bottom".

"I know many people hold me ultimately responsible for the action and reputation of the global football community, whether it is a decision for the hosting of a World Cup or a corruption scandal," he continued.

"I cannot monitor everyone all of the time - if people want to do wrong, they will also try to hide it. It must fall to me to bear responsibility for the reputation and well-being of our organisation and to find a way forward to fix things."

Michel Platini said Uefa's 54 member countries had not ruled out a boycott of future Fifa tournaments (REUTERS/Ruben Sprich)
Michel Platini said Uefa's 54 member countries had not ruled out a boycott of future Fifa tournaments (REUTERS/Ruben Sprich)

Platini revealed yesterday that he had confronted his "friend" Blatter to urge him to step down in the wake of allegations by US investigators that decades of "rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted" corruption had taken place at Fifa on his watch.

"I said, 'Look Sepp, we started at Fifa in 1998, and for the future f Fifa, I am here to ask you to leave, to resign'," he said. "I speak like a friend with him. He said it was too late."

Many believe that Blatter decided to stay because he is likely to win today's election - but last night bookmakers cut the odds of Prince Ali succeeding him. (© Independent News Service)

Independent News Service

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