British MP and FIFA reform campaigner wants change now

A founder member of the campaign group ‘New FIFA Now’ who is also a British Member of Parliament says change is needed more than ever and many people probably think president Sepp Blatter is the most despicable man in world sport.

LONDON, UK (MAY 27, 2015) (ITN) – A British Member of Parliament (MP) and founding member of the reform group ‘New FIFA’ Now, said on Wednesday (May 27) that action is needed more than ever to improve the organisation after the arrests of some of its leading figures.

Seven of the most powerful figures in global soccer faced extradition to the United States on corruption charges after being arrested on Wednesday in Switzerland, where authorities also announced a criminal investigation into the awarding of the next two World Cups to Russia and Qatar.

The world’s most popular sport was plunged into turmoil after U.S. and Swiss authorities announced separate inquiries into the activities of the game’s powerful governing body.

U.S. authorities said nine football officials and five sports media and promotions executives faced corruption charges involving more than $150 million in bribes. Swiss police arrested seven FIFA officials who are now awaiting extradition to the United States.

Those arrested did not include Sepp Blatter, the Swiss head of FIFA, but included several just below him in the hierarchy of sport’s wealthiest body.

British MP Damian Collins, a long-time campaigner for changes in FIFA, said: “The whole thing throws into question the right of Russia and Qatar to host the world cups. If they won those competitions on a corrupt process, how could that be allowed to continue? That process should be re-run and it calls into question the authority of Sepp Blatter and whether he should be allowed to be a candidate for the FIFA presidency.”

Collins said FIFA’s response was typical.

“Well I think this is astonishing. FIFA’s message seems to be: let’s just carry on as if nothing’s happened. That can’t be the case. I mean. it’s astonishing that Sepp Blatter has said he’s calm about what’s happening today. I think many people will look at him now and think that he’s probably, you know, the most despicable man in world sport; he’s leading an organisation that appears to be riven with corruption; and they seem to be trying to pretend that none of this is really happening. The process to award the world cups has to be re-run if it was corrupted; the presidential elections can’t be allowed to go ahead if there are such big questions against the most senior figures in world football.”

The Conservative representative for Folkestone and Hythe on England’s southeast coast praised the law enforcement agencies and presumed charges would follow.

“Sepp Blatter promised us that he would reform FIFA and world football. He’s failed and the reason he’s failed was the process was always an inside job; it was led by people he appointed, they reported back to him and the FIFA Executive Committee and every step of the way they’ve sought to hide and suppress information that was damaging or embarrassing to them and the only way that this has become public is that the FBI and other international law enforcement agencies have launched their own investigation into them and they’ve found the evidence and you know, there will now I would now imagine be charges against some of those people,” said Collins.

Blatter himself has not been implicated in anything illegal, but Collins was still critical of the FIFA president.

“Sepp Blatter has behaved for many years as if he believed that FIFA was above international law and above international opinion and was his own judge and jury and he’s had a very stark awakening this morning that demonstrates it’s not”, said Collins.