Fifa's spat with Uefa worsens

Blatter accuses Euro body of blocking reform proposals and integrity check calls

Uefa president Michel Platini (right) congratulating Fifa president Sepp Blatter after his re-election, having campaigned against him. Their feud is set to worsen.
Uefa president Michel Platini (right) congratulating Fifa president Sepp Blatter after his re-election, having campaigned against him. Their feud is set to worsen.PHOTO: REUTERS

London - Fresh hostilities between Uefa and Fifa have broken out after senior European football officials accused Sepp Blatter of having lost the plot after he openly contradicted himself over promised reforms.

In the speech in which he promised to stand down amid the worst crisis in Fifa's history, Blatter, its outgoing president, said the size of the world governing body's executive committee "must be reduced" and its members directly elected by the 209 Fifa members.

But in a new Fifa Weekly column in which the Swiss argues for more spots on the executive committee for non-European confederations and more representation for women, he says: "I am reluctant to take places away from anyone; there should not be a redistribution of seats on the executive committee but a commensurate expansion of this body."

Blatter, now openly in conflict with Uefa president Michel Platini after the Frenchman campaigned for his removal during the recent presidential elections, is determined to reduce the influence of the confederations before he leaves his post.

Senior Uefa sources were said to be "perplexed at Sepp Blatter's flip-flopping and wonder whether he has completely lost his way".

Blatter also took aim at Uefa in his column, again claiming that the European confederation had blocked his reform proposals and the prospect of integrity checks for all exco members. He called on individual confederations such as Uefa to follow Fifa's lead and establish their own ethics committees.

He wrote: "Confederations must at the same time acknowledge their responsibility in matters of ethics.

"Only the Asian confederation has an ethics committee like the one introduced by Fifa. All other continental bodies are lacking in this regard."

In his column, Blatter does not address reports that he could change his mind and stand for re-election. Fifa issued a statement earlier in the week saying he stood by his decision to resign.

A date for the next election will be set at an extraordinary meeting of Fifa's exco on July 20.

Meanwhile, Blatter's promise of more places around the table for the African and Asian confederations is likely to play well with his supporters.

He wrote: "The key is to strengthen democracy within the 'Fifa government'. The confederations must be proportionally represented according to the number of member associations they have.

"The fact that CAF, the African confederation boasting 54 members, and the AFC, the Asian confederation with 46 members, only have five and four delegates respectively in the 25-person Fifa executive is contradictory to this notion of democracy."

While senior Fifa executives negotiate in the run-up to next month's meeting, those outside the organisation continue to lobby for more fundamental reform.

Even if he does not stay on as president, Blatter appears determined to try to clear a path for his chosen successor even as the parallel US and Swiss criminal investigations into corruption and the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups continue.

The Guardian

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 21, 2015, with the headline 'Fifa's spat with Uefa worsens'. Subscribe