herald

Friday 9 December 2016

FIFA crisis: Pressure grows on Blatter as top executive Heather Rabbatts resigns in protest

The FIFA's flag and the Colombian national flag flutter at the entrance of Colombia's Football Federation (FCF) headquarters prior to FCF's president Luis Bedoya's press conference in Bogota on June 1, 2015, following last week's arrest of FIFA officials over corruption charges filed by US authorities
The FIFA's flag and the Colombian national flag flutter at the entrance of Colombia's Football Federation (FCF) headquarters prior to FCF's president Luis Bedoya's press conference in Bogota on June 1, 2015, following last week's arrest of FIFA officials over corruption charges filed by US authorities

The pressure on Sepp Blatter has intensified after a second Football Association director resigned from a FIFA post and a long-serving executive committee member warned that he is also considering his future.

Heather Rabbatts, one of the FA's two independent directors, has resigned from FIFA's anti -discrimination task force following Blatter's re-election as president.

Rabbatts' said it was "unacceptable" that so little has been done to reform FIFA and that the latest corruption crisis was "disastrous" for the world governing body's reputation.

Her action follows FA vice-chairman David Gill rejecting his place on the FIFA executive committee in protest at Blatter's election victory.

Meanwhile, FIFA's medical chief Michel D'Hooghe is considering his own future within the world governing body and is expected to make a decision following a UEFA meeting in Berlin ahead of the Champions League final.

UEFA president Michel Platini is not expected to go down the road of a World Cup boycott - for a start more than a quarter of the 53 associations did not back Blatter's rival Prince Ali of Jordan - but there could be actions taken over positions held by UEFA members.

Rabbatts had been a member of FIFA's anti-discrimination task force chaired by Jeffrey Webb, the FIFA vice-president from the Cayman Islands who was one of the seven officials arrested in Zurich on corruption charges last week.

In her resignation letter to FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, Rabbatts says: "Like many in the game I find it unacceptable that so little has been done to reform FIFA and it is clear from the re-election of President Blatter that the challenges facing FIFA and the ongoing damage to the reputation of football's world governing body are bound to continue to overshadow and undermine the credibility of any work in the anti-discrimination arena and beyond."

The FIFA scandal was also raised in the House of Commons where Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said he had spoken to FA chairman Greg Dyke and the pair had agreed to keep all options on the table in an effort to end the "culture of kickbacks and corruption that risk ruining international football for a generation".

Amid calls for a boycott of the World Cup, Whittingdale told MPs the Government would do anything in its power to bring about change in FIFA.

D'Hooghe's comments, meanwhile were made on Belgian television to talk show de Zevende Dag (Seventh Day), where he said: "I thought the tornado that struck FIFA would change some people's mind. That maybe happened to a minor extent, but clearly insufficient to create a new majority.

"I have been shouldering the medical responsibility at FIFA for 27 years, but can not reconcile myself with the institution now I understand that there are a lot of corruption cases.

"My conclusion is clear: I no longer want to participate in this situation. It's high time that changes are made."

In another development, the New Zealand barrister who quit FIFA's ethics committee earlier this year has raised concerns about the Garcia investigation into World Cup bidding.

Nicholas Davidson, QC, told the New Zealand Herald: "I was very frustrated I could not get the Garcia report. Investigators need to know the whole story, in my view.

"FIFA's investigation team is independent, determined and very capable. There are some matters which must be addressed to make it as effective as it needs to be. The perception of independence goes with the reality."

Promoted articles

Entertainment News