Prime Minister David Cameron has urged embattled FIFA chief Sepp Blatter to step down – saying “the sooner that happens the better”, Sky News reports. The comments came as Euro football bosses said they would consider a 2018 World Cup boycott if Mr Blatter is re-elected later today. “In my view he should go,” Mr Cameron said. “You cannot have accusations of corruption at this level and on this scale in this organisation and pretend that the person currently leading it is the right person to take it forward. That cannot be the case.
“Frankly what we have seen is the ugly side of the beautiful game and he should go. “And the sooner that happens the better.” Earlier Mr Blatter appealed for “unity” while opening the 65th FIFA congress before presidential elections this afternoon. He insisted that it was “individuals” within FIFA who stood accused of corruption – not the whole of the organisation. “I am willing to accept the president of FIFA is responsible for everything but I would at least like to share that responsibility with everyone,” Mr Blatter said.
“We cannot constantly supervise everyone in football … you cannot ask everyone to behave ethically.” Mr Blatter has rejected calls to quit after allegations of “rampant, systemic and deep-rooted corruption” engulfed the organisation.Instead he is pressing on with his attempt to win a fifth term by defeating Prince Ali bin al Hussein of Jordan. He told delegates that the arrest of seven top officials in Zurich on Wednesday had unleashed a “storm”.
But he added: “Today I appeal for a team spirit, unity, so we can advance together. It may not be easy but that is why we are here today. “Join us in putting FIFA back on the right track where the boats will stop rocking and go calmly into port.” Questioning the timing of the arrests, he continued: “It’s not good for all this to emerge just two days before FIFA presidential elections.
“I’m not going to use the word coincidence, but I do have a small question mark.” His defiance comes as UEFA chief Michel Platini and FA chair Greg Dyke said they were now open to a European boycott of the World Cup. “What there is no point in is one or two countries saying ‘We’re not going to take part’ because they will carry on with the tournament without them and that is pretty unfair on the fans,” Mr Dyke told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
“But if Uefa as a group said ‘Look, unless you get this sorted we are not going to be in the World Cup’ then I think that we would join them.” They will vote later today after both candidates have had the chance to address delegates at the congress. If either candidate gets two-thirds of the votes in the first round (139 votes) then they will win outright. That result is expected between 3 and 4pm.
If this does not happen, the winner will be whoever gains more votes in the second round. Mr Platini has estimated at least 45 UEFA members might vote for Prince Ali, and the US, Canada and Australia are likely to follow suit. However, Sky’s Enda Brady, reporting from Zurich, said it was highly unlikely that Mr Blatter would be ousted. “All of Africa is behind Blatter, every single man, all of Asia … despite everything he will come out of this as president of FIFA, unless there is a seismic shift,” Brady said.
“He is deflecting any responsibility whatsoever.” On Wednesday, the US Department of Justice charged a total of 14 people over alleged bribes totalling more than $150m (£98m). The alleged bribes paid for television rights, sponsorship deals and World Cup votes. Among the 14 arrested are seven FIFA officials including Jeffrey Webb, a FIFA vice-president from the Cayman Islands, with a British passport.
“If I have been thiefing FIFA money for 30 years, who give me the money?” Mr Warner said. “How come he is not charged? Why only persons from Third World countries have been charged?” He faces eight counts in the US, including conspiracy to defraud and to engage in racketeering. The UK Serious Fraud Office today said it was also actively assessing “material in its possession” relating to FIFA corruption allegations.
Barclays, HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank were allegedly used to transfer cash as part of the conspiracy, US prosecutors allege. Swiss authorities are also investigating the decision to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar. They will question 10 current FIFA executive committee members who took part in the 2010 vote. During Mr Blatter’s presidential address two pro-Palestinian demonstrators were taken out of the hall by security. Palestine wants to hold a vote to expel Israel because of its treatment of Palestinian footballers.