Published: Thu, 28 May 2015
Fine Gael MEP for Ireland South, and former GAA President, Sean Kelly, has called for “long overdue change” at the helm of FIFA – soccer’s international governing body – following reports that seven serving FIFA officials have been arrested in Switzerland on corruption charges. Those arrested included two vice-presidents and did not include FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
Speaking in the European Parliament in Brussels today (Thursday), Mr. Kelly spoke of how FIFA’s reputation has been tarnished in recent times and that a change of leadership away from those currently in power, including Mr. Blatter, would be “refreshing to many involved in sport globally”. On the arrests, the Kerry MEP spoke of how they point to a poorly-run organisation.
“Through my work on sporting initiatives in the European Parliament, and indeed from my time as President of the GAA, I am acutely aware of the importance of the proper governance of sport and sporting bodies. The allegations of corruption in FIFA regarding the decisions to award World Cups to Russia and Qatar, coupled with yesterday’s arrests in Switzerland, are damaging to the sport and set a negative example for young people involved in it. The current reputation of FIFA speaks for itself and it is time for a long overdue change in its governance.”
FIFA, which is due to hold a presidential election this Friday, has said that the election will go ahead as planned, where Blatter, who has served as FIFA’s president since 1998, is expected to be re-elected to his fifth term as President. Fine Gael MEP Kelly suggested that the elections should be suspended following today’s revelations.
“It would not be proper to hold these elections in light of what we have learned today. If it does indeed go ahead, I am pleased at least that the Football Associations of Ireland, England and Scotland have stated their intentions not to vote for Mr. Blatter. For the sake of the image of the game, I hope that other Associations follow suit.”