Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
UEFA and Visa are considering their relationship with FIFA, after six FIFA officials were arrested in Switzerland yesterday following the issue of a 161-page, 47-count indictment by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) that named nine current and former FIFA officials amongst 14 individuals charged with alleged embezzlement. UEFA’s member associations are meeting today to consider their position ahead of the FIFA Congress, which also begins today. Meanwhile financial services company Visa, which is one of FIFA’s five official partners, has urged FIFA to take immediate action.
‘There is a need for the whole of FIFA to be “rebooted” and for a real reform to be carried out’, read yesterday’s UEFA statement. ‘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.’
‘As a sponsor, we expect FIFA to take swift and immediate steps to address these issues within its organisation’, read yesterday’s Visa statement. ‘This starts with rebuilding a culture with strong ethical practices in order to restore the reputation of the games for fans everywhere. Our sponsorship has always focused on supporting the teams, enabling a great fan experience, and inspiring communities to come together and celebrate the spirit of competition and personal achievement – and it is important that FIFA makes changes now, so that the focus remain on these going forward. Should FIFA fail to do so, we have informed them that we will reassess our sponsorship.’
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) reiterated its decision to support current FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter. ‘The Asian Football Confederation expresses its disappointment and sadness at Wednesday’s events in Zurich whilst opposing any delay in the FIFA Presidential elections to take place on Friday May 29 in Zurich’, read a statement issued today. ‘Furthermore, the AFC reiterates its decision taken at the AFC Congress in Sao Paulo in 2014, endorsed at subsequent Congresses in Melbourne and Manama in 2015, to support FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter’.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) adopted the same position. ‘The Confédération Africaine de Football (CAF) opposes any postponement of the 65th FIFA Congress and the election for the presidency scheduled for 29 May 2015 in Zurich’, read a statement issued today. ‘At the confederation meeting held on Wednesday, 27 May 2015 in Zurich, CAF reiterated its support for the candidacy of incumbent Joseph Sepp Blatter during the election’.
As both the AFC and CAF are supporting Blatter, if UEFA member associations decide to boycott the FIFA Congress, this would almost certainly mean that Blatter would be re-elected as FIFA President. However, it would be extraordinary for FIFA to proceed with the Congress without the support of its largest – and most lucrative – member confederation.
The Confederation of North, Central America and the Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) said that it is ‘deeply concerned’ by developments, and would ‘continue to cooperate with the authorities to its fullest capacity’. The Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (CONMEBOL) and the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) have yet to issue statements.
As reported by the Sports Integrity Initiative yesterday, FIFA’s independent Ethics Committee has provisionally suspended all current officials named in the DoJ action. The suspensions were confirmed late last night. This will mean that a number of FIFA officials – including three Executive Committee members – will not be present to vote in decisions taken at the FIFA Congress, which FIFA said yesterday would go ahead as planned.
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