Thursday 29 September 2016

UEFA calls for postponement of FIFA presidential election as Sepp Blatter 'welcomes' investigation

Martyn Ziegler

Published 27/05/2015 | 19:19

FIFA President Sepp Blatter gestures as he addresses a news conference after a meeting of the FIFA executive committee in Zurich in this March 20, 2015 file picture. Six soccer officials were arrested in Zurich on Wednesday and detained pending extradition to the United States over suspected corruption at soccer's governing body FIFA, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice said in a statement. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/Files
FIFA President Sepp Blatter gestures as he addresses a news conference after a meeting of the FIFA executive committee in Zurich in this March 20, 2015 file picture. Six soccer officials were arrested in Zurich on Wednesday and detained pending extradition to the United States over suspected corruption at soccer's governing body FIFA, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice said in a statement. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/Files
Greg Dyke, who said the FA had nominated rival Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan as the next president, said: "We should stress this morning's developments are very serious for Fifa and its current leadership. Nick Potts/PA Wire.

UEFA has called for FIFA's presidential election on Friday to be postponed as the shock waves from the biggest scandal to hit the world governing body reverberated through the sport.

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FIFA was plunged into the most serious scandal in its history on Wednesday after a wave of arrests of football officials in Zurich on corruption charges.

Seven officials including FIFA vice-president Jeffrey Webb from the Cayman Islands were arrested by Swiss authorities on behalf of the US Department of Justice, which has indicted 18 people alleging bribery totalling more than 150million US dollars (£98million).

In a separate development, the Swiss attorney general also opened criminal proceedings over the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, seized documents and electronic data from FIFA's headquarters and will question 10 current FIFA executive committee members who voted on that tournament.

The twin proceedings have cast FIFA into a state of crisis and UEFA wants Friday's presidential election between incumbent Sepp Blatter and Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan to be postponed.

In a brief statement, the current president of FIFA said this evening: "Misconduct has no place in football and FIFA will ensure those who engage in it are put out of the game".

UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino, speaking in Warsaw ahead of the Europa League final, said in a statement: "UEFA believes that the FIFA Congress should be postponed and that the election for the president should take place within six months."

Read more: FAI boss John Delaney describes FIFA corruption arrests as 'something out of a mafia movie'

The full UEFA statement following an executive committee meeting said: "Today's events are a disaster for FIFA and tarnish the image of football as a whole.

"UEFA is deeply shocked and saddened by them. These events show, once again, that corruption is deeply rooted in FIFA's culture.

"There is a need for the whole of FIFA to be "rebooted" and for a real reform to be carried out.

"The upcoming FIFA Congress risks to turn into a farce and therefore the European associations will have to consider carefully if they should even attend this Congress and caution a system, which, if it is not stopped, will ultimately kill football.

"The UEFA member associations are meeting tomorrow ahead of the FIFA Congress. At that point, the European associations will decide on what further steps need to be taken to protect the game of football.

"In the meantime, the members of the UEFA executive committee are convinced that there is a strong need for a change to the leadership of this FIFA and strongly believe that the FIFA Congress should be postponed, with new FIFA presidential elections to be organised within the next six months."

Read more: FIFA scandal - South Africa paid €9m in bribes to host 2010 World Cup, says US Attorney General

FIFA president Sepp Blatter issued a statement saying: "This is a difficult time for football, the fans and for FIFA as an organisation. We understand the disappointment that many have expressed and I know that the events of today will impact the way in which many people view us.

"As unfortunate as these events are, it should be clear that we welcome the actions and the investigations by the US and Swiss authorities and believe that it will help to reinforce measures that FIFA has already taken to root out any wrongdoing in football.

"While there will be many who are frustrated with the pace of change, I would like to stress the actions that we have taken and will continue to take. In fact, today's action by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General was set in motion when we submitted a dossier to the Swiss authorities late last year.

"Let me be clear: such misconduct has no place in football and we will ensure that those who engage in it are put out of the game. Following the events of today, the independent Ethics Committee - which is in the midst of its own proceedings regarding the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups - took swift action to provisionally ban those individuals named by the authorities from any football-related activities at the national and international level."

Read more: Nike 'co-operating' with FIFA as scandal raises concerns for sponsors

Earlier today FAI CEO John Delaney said that while the events are shocking, it should come as no major surprise.

"It seems like something out of a mafia movie," he told Today with Sean O'Rourke on RTE Radio One.

"Nothing would surprise me with FIFA, that’s the sad thing about FIFA. UEFA is a tremendous organisation to work.

Delaney believes that Blatter may still win the vote even if Friday's vote goes ahead.

“Cultural change has to come from the top and Sepp Blatter has presided over this for a number of years," he added

“He’ll win the election if it takes place on Friday but we won’t be voting for him.

“We’ve a meeting of the UEFA federation tomorrow, the 53-54 associations in Europe, we’ll meet to determine our strategy.

“Hopefully people will take the view that it is time for change.

“There are 208 or 209 votes, UEFA have 53 for Prince Ali to win he would need to gather 105 votes. Up until this morning, there wasn’t really a chance (of Blatter being beaten).

“The events of this morning may change that but I’ll only know that when I get to Zurich later today and attend the UEFA meeting in the morning.

“There could be radical things done like saying we won’t participate in FIFA tournaments. That would be radical and there have been mutterings like that and we’ll see what tomorrow morning brings.

"Some of the bigger countries feel that FIFA isn't being run correctly."

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