Van Praag speaks out about Blatter

10 June 2014 05:01

UEFA's growing unhappiness with FIFA president Sepp Blatter has burst out into the open with Dutch FA chief Michael van Praag calling on the 78-year-old not to stand for a fifth term in officer.

Van Praag, a member of UEFA's powerful executive committee since 2009, said Blatter had to take responsibility for all the bad publicity surrounding the world governing body.

He is the most senior official to speak out about Blatter's election plans.

Van Praag, in Sao Paulo for the FIFA Congress, told Dutch newspaper Volkskrant: "The image of FIFA has been tarnished by everything that has happened over the last years.

"There are very few people who still take FIFA seriously and no matter how you look at it, Blatter is ultimately responsible.

"If you are in a post for 16 years then there comes a time when you have to ask whether you are still contributing anything.

"The election for the FIFA presidency is only next year but it will be good if Europe is well prepared and ready to make its choice."

Van Praag is regarded as a possible challenger to Blatter, along with Germany's Wolfgang Niesbach and European clubs' chairman Karl Heinz Rummenigge - although there is zero expectation that any of them would beat the incumbent president.

Blatter has shored up his powerbase with pledges of support from the African, Asian, Oceania and Carribbean federations

Meanwhile, FIFA will "never change" while Blatter remains president, according to his former ally Jack Warner.

Warner quit FIFA in disgrace following a corruption scandal in 2011, after three decades as an executive committee member.

The Trinidadian politician has continued to be caught up in allegations surrounding payments made by another ex-FIFA member, Qatar's Mohamed Bin Hammam.

Blatter is expected to announce on Wednesday at FIFA's Congress in Sao Paulo that he will stand for a fifth term as president. But Warner, who played a key role in securing Blatter's original election, said it was time he stepped down.

Warner told ITV News: "If Blatter had one modicum of decency he wouldn't even be at FIFA still.

"I have been with FIFA for 30 yearsI am still the longest serving elected officer of FIFA, and under Mr Blatter? I am saying to you under Mr Blatter, FIFA will never change."

On Monday Blatter claimed allegations of corruption surrounding the Qatar 2022 World Cup bid have been steered by "discrimination and racism".

The Sunday Times published further allegations this week regarding Bin Hammam, claiming it has received ''hundreds of millions'' of documents some of which show payments he authorised to football officials during the bidding process for the tournament.

However, Blatter told the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Congress in Sao Paulo on Monday that the media reports are a "storm against FIFA".

The Swiss added: "Sadly there's a great deal of discrimination and racism and this hurts me. It really makes me sad."

African officials were among those alleged to have taken payments from Bin Hammam, according to the Sunday Times.

CAF responded by issuing a resolution on its website Monday condemning the claims as " deliberately hateful, defamatory and degrading".

Bin Hammam was banned from football for life by FIFA in December 2012 over ''conflicts of interest'' while president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

FIFA's chief investigator, Michael Garcia, has this week completed his assessment of the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, due to be finished this week - although the findings will not be made public until later this summer.

Source: PA

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