24th Sep 2018

Europe football chiefs welcome Blatter exit

  • Can Fifa be trusted to reform itself? (Photo: bildungsr0man)

European football chiefs have welcomed the resignation of Fifa boss Sepp Blatter, but they need to do some soul searching over their role in his recent reappointment.

“It was a difficult decision, a brave decision, and the right decision”, said Michel Platini, president of the European football association, Uefa, on Tuesday (2 June).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

He spoke after Blatter, earlier the same day, said he’d stand down as president of the world football association, Fifa.

“While I have a mandate from the membership of Fifa, I do not feel that I have a mandate from the entire world of football - the fans, the players, the clubs”, the 79-year old Swiss official, who had led the body since 1998, told press.

His decision comes amid US and Swiss probes into Fifa corruption indicted 14 high-level officials.

Blatter, who was re-elected despite the scandal last Friday, had claimed he “could not watch everyone” in his hierarchy. But the latest reports indicate that he is himself a suspect in the US investigation.

For his part, Platini, last week, had urged Uefa nations to vote for Jordanian prince Ali bin al-Hussein instead of Blatter.

But more than a dozen European nations, including Spain and France, ignored him and backed Blatter anyway.

Uefa national chairs will meet later this week in Berlin, which, on Saturday, hosts the Uefa Champions League final.

The president of the Dutch football association, Michael van Praag, said they would “definitely” discuss Fifa.

“I'm looking forward to see how everyone reacts. Spain and France for example, which voted for Blatter, have some explaining to do”, he said in Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant on Wednesday.

The king is dead

Van Praag was a candidate in the Fifa elections before withdrawing to back the Jordanian prince, but he declined to say if he’ll run again, with fresh elections to be held between December and March 2016.

Al-Hussein also called Blatter's exit “the right move” and also declined to confirm if he’ll run again.

“I’m at the disposal of all the national associations who want a change, including all of those who were afraid to make a change”, he told CNN.

Speculation on sports websites has identified other potential candidates: retired football players Luis Figo (Portugal) and David Ganola (France); Turkish Uefa vice-president Senes Erzik; former Fifa executive Jerome Champagne; and English football association head Greg Dyke.

But Platini himself is the odds-on favourite.

He “suits the role of president of Fifa better than anyone else”, Nikita Simonyan, the acting president of the Russian football union, said.

Russia will need the new president’s support amid concerns that its winning bid, to host the World Cup in 2018, could be overturned if the Swiss probe finds evidence of bribery.

Platini has in the past criticised calls to reassign the 2018 and 2022 (Qatar) cups or to boycott the 2018 cup over Ukraine.


In the meantime, Blatter will stay on as acting president.

He said on Tuesday he will launch a Fifa reform process.

“Since I shall not be a candidate, and am therefore now free from the constraints that elections inevitably impose, I shall be able to focus on driving far-reaching, fundamental reforms that transcend our previous efforts”, he noted.

But according to the campaign group New Fifa Now, the body “has shown it cannot be trusted to reform itself”.

In a statement on Tuesday evening, it called for an independent reform commission.

“What is needed is systemic change to the governance arrangements, not shuffling of deck chairs”, said the group, which launched its appeal for a Fifa overhaul in the European Parliament last January.

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.


Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline

A joint declaration on the Southern Gas Corridor project, which should deliver Azerbaijani gas to Europe by 2020, will remain secret - because the Turkish energy minister left before signing.

Visual Data

Every major city in Europe is getting warmer

An exclusive analysis of over 100 million meteorological data points shows that every major city in Europe is warmer in the 21s​t​ century than it was in the 20t​h​. Northern regions, Andalusia and southern Romania are most affected.


No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected

Following the 2030 renewable target of 32 percent, chair of the European Parliament's environment committee Adina Valean argues in order to reach our climate and energy goals, we need both public and private investment over the next decade and beyond.


Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK

The EU will be watching closely how the political dynamics of Theresa May's Conservative party conference starting next week will influence Brexit negotiations. MEPs might also be forced to release their office expenses.

News in Brief

  1. ECB's Draghi set to clarify role in secretive G30 group
  2. Half of EU states at risk of missing recycling target
  3. Commission refers Poland to EU top court over rule of law
  4. Open Society Foundation takes Hungary to court
  5. EU court asked to rule on halting Brexit
  6. EU threatens Switzerland on stock trading
  7. Italy's new basic wage restricted to Italians
  8. UK tycoon offers to create pro-Brexit party


Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK

The EU will be watching closely how the political dynamics of Theresa May's Conservative party conference starting next week will influence Brexit negotiations. MEPs might also be forced to release their office expenses.


Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit

Decisions in the EU are a complicated process of intense negotiations, quid pro quos and horse-trading, until an agreement can finally be reached. But that didn't happen in Salzburg.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline
  2. Every major city in Europe is getting warmer
  3. No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected
  4. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  5. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  6. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  7. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  8. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  5. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  6. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  9. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  11. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us