Fifa shaken by Nobel body's severing of links

ZURICH - Fifa reacted with bitterness yesterday over the Nobel Peace Centre's plan to end cooperation over the Handshake For Peace initiative, saying the decision was "not fair play" and obstructed anti-discrimination.

In an unusually strongly-worded statement, football's governing body said: "We are disappointed to have learnt from the media about the Nobel Peace Centre's intent to terminate the cooperation with Fifa on the Handshake For Peace initiative.

"Fifa is reluctant to accept this unilateral approach on what is a joint initiative between the football community and the NPC.

"This action does not embody the spirit of fair play especially as it obstructs the promotion of the key values of peace-building and anti-discrimination."

The NPC announced on Monday that it was ending its link with the scandal-plagued body and did not give a specific reason.

Fifa said NPC executive director Bente Erichsen phoned president Sepp Blatter yesterday and that she "continued to believe in this initiative and hoped it would live on in football with Fifa".

The Oslo-based NPC was behind the initiative that has been pushed by Blatter for three years.

Fifa encouraged pre-match handshakes between captains and officials as the Handshake For Peace and was hoping to introduce it at the end of matches.

The NPC's announcement came three days after Interpol suspended a €20 million (S$30.1 million) arrangement with Fifa on fighting match-fixing.

The FBI is investigating bribery and corruption involving Fifa officials, including scrutiny of how Fifa awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Blatter was re-elected for a fifth term as president in May but announced four days later he would stand down and call a new election. Despite talk that he could stay on after being honoured by messages of support from African and Asian football associations, Fifa has insisted that the Swiss will step down.

The Asian Football Confederation has also declined to throw its weight behind any push to keep Blatter in power, while Africa's football confederation said it had not heard of any of its members asking him to stay on.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2015, with the headline 'Fifa shaken by Nobel body's severing of links'. Print Edition | Subscribe