European Football Leaders Call On FIFA President Sepp Blatter To Stand Down
Senior UEFA members "launched a sustained attack" on the leadership of FIFA President Sepp Blatter, "telling him not to stand for re-election next year," according to Roger Blitz of the FINANCIAL TIMES. In a "behind-closed-doors meeting" in São Paulo attended by Blatter, several UEFA members, including FA Chair Greg Dyke and Dutch Football Federation President Michael van Praag, "attacked the Fifa president for his record on tackling corruption in the governing body." Dyke and former ManU CEO David Gill, now a UEFA exec committee member, both told Blatter his description of the British media’s reporting of World Cup bidding corruption allegations as “racism and discrimination” was "unacceptable." The meeting was described by one UEFA insider as “feisty and pretty hostile,” in contrast to the "warm reception Blatter received from other football confederations on Monday and Tuesday" (FT, 6/10). The BBC reported Blatter met UEFA officials on Tuesday "after winning support from the world governing body's five other confederations." Dyke said he told Blatter, "The allegations being made are nothing to do with racism; they are allegations about corruption." Blatter is said to "have told delegates he still wished to stand for a fifth term in next year's election." But UEFA exec committee member Van Praag told Blatter that "it was time to end his reign." Van Praag: "Few people still take FIFA seriously and, however you look at it, Blatter is mainly responsible (BBC, 6/10).
BLATTER'S U-TURN: In London, Ian Herbert reported Dyke's "extraordinary challenge" to Blatter came after he told UEFA that he was considering standing for another term in office next year, "contrary to his previous promise to leave." Blatter: "I changed my mind." He "received no support" from any member of UEFA's "powerful executive committee" and "did not receive the customary standing ovation after his speech, in which Blatter said he had to take responsibility for all the bad publicity surrounding football's governing body" (INDEPENDENT, 6/10). REUTERS' Mike Collett reported after the meeting, former UEFA President Lennart Johansson, who lost a FIFA presidential election to Blatter in '98, said, "It is time he went. He has done some good things for football and FIFA but 16 years is enough." Asked if UEFA was the only confederation who would like to see him go, UEFA exec committee member Karen Espelund, of Norway, said, "We will see, he has had some clear messages today and there is still a year to go" (REUTERS, 6/10). The AP reported Gill labelled Blatter’s decision to commit a U-turn on his '11 pledge to stand down in '15 as “disappointing.” Asked if he thought Blatter should step down next year, he added, “Personally yes, I think we need to move on. I think we need a full, frank and open debate about what FIFA needs going forward” (AP, 6/10).