Monday

4th Jul 2022

Fifa chief under fire in new EP campaign

The European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday (21 January) saw plotters launch a coup against a 78-year old president, who has been in power since 1998 and who is surrounded by corruption scandals.

“We need a revolution”, one of the conspirators, former Australian football official Bonita Mersiades, said.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The target of the coup is Fifa.

The world football authority has such a “miserable reputation” that something must be done, Ivo Belet, a Belgian centre-right MEP noted.

Belet, together with two British deputies from the ruling Conservative Party - Emma McClarkin and Damian Collins - oganised Wednesday’s hearing in the name of New Fifa Now.

The self-styled “movement” is urging Fifa to provide greater “democracy, transparency, and accountability”.

“We all care about football”, McClarkin said, in remarks echoed by several panelists. But she added that love shouldn’t blind fans to absence of “good governance”.

“Sport should be governing itself, but we have an obligation to step in when that doesn't seem to be working”.

Mersiades, a sports consultant who used to work at the Australian regulator, Football Federation Australia, agreed.

She criticised Fifa’s handling of a 2012 corruption scandal in which it commissioned former US attorney Michael Garcia to look into the allegations.

“Who ever heard of an independent investigation executed by someone who is being paid by the organisation he is investigating?”, she asked.

David Triesman, a member of the UK House of Lords and a former chairman of England's Football Association, told MEPs that Fifa has a “historical indifference to its faults”.

“Football needs to come into the real world”.

He put Sepp Blatter, the 78-year old Swiss president of Fifa since 1998, at the heart of the problem.

“Had this been a chairman of public office, he could not have survived the series of [Fifa corruption] scandals”, he said.

The other British MEP, Collins, agreed: “Blatter is part of the problem, not part of the solution”.

The Fifa president, who has denied claims of wrongdoing and who will stand for re-election in 2015, was not invited to the EU event.

For its part, Uefa, the European football body, has also come out against a fifth Blatter presidency.

But it won't be enough to stop him as it’s just one of six world federations involved in the selection process.

Meanwhile, the European Commission’s hands are tied.

Under the Lisbon treaty in 2009 the EU has no power to legislate on sports.

But even if it could pass sports laws in EU states, it would have no jurisdiction on the independent, Swiss-based international organisation.

It begs the question who, given Fifa’s problems, has the power to make it reform?

For Dutch centre-right MEP Esther de Lange, Switzerland itself should take responsibility, giving EU capitals an opportunity to use diplomacy to stimulate change.

"Why not press the Swiss in bilateral meetings?”, she said at the EP event.

She added that any EU campaign should not just involve sports ministers if it is to make an impact.

“If our PMs and economy ministers don't speak up, it will be limited in effect”, she warned.

UEFA lose legal battle on free-to-air football

EU governments have the right to ensure that international football championships are available on free-to-air television channels, according a court ruling on Thursday.

Fifa scandal spotlights Russia

Campaigners for tougher sanctions on Russia are saying it should lose the 2018 football World Cup if US or Swiss sleuths uncover corruption.

Opinion

Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways

For the most part Nato and its 30 leaders rose to the occasion — but it wasn't without room for improvement. The lesson remains that Nato still doesn't know how or want to hold allies accountable for disruptive behaviour.

Opinion

Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways

For the most part Nato and its 30 leaders rose to the occasion — but it wasn't without room for improvement. The lesson remains that Nato still doesn't know how or want to hold allies accountable for disruptive behaviour.

MEPs boycott awards over controversial sponsorship

Two MEPs have withdrawn their nominations from the MEPs Awards over the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis's participation as a sponsor — currently involved in an alleged bribery scandal in Greece.

News in Brief

  1. EU Parliament 'photographs protesting interpreters'
  2. Poland still failing to meet EU judicial criteria
  3. Report: Polish president fishing for UN job
  4. Auditors raise alarm on EU Commission use of consultants
  5. Kaliningrad talks needed with Russia, says Polish PM
  6. Report: EU to curb state-backed foreign takeovers
  7. EU announces trade deal with New Zealand
  8. Russia threatens Norway over goods transit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways
  2. Czech presidency to fortify EU embrace of Ukraine
  3. Covid-profiting super rich should fight hunger, says UN food chief
  4. EU pollution and cancer — it doesn't have to be this way
  5. Israel smeared Palestinian activists, EU admits
  6. MEPs boycott awards over controversial sponsorship
  7. If Russia collapses — which states will break away?
  8. EU Parliament interpreters stage strike

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us