BRUSSELS: Veteran FIFA medical chairman Michel D’Hooghe is reviewing his role as a longserving member of the world federation’s eecutive committee after events of last week writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
D’Hooghe, returnng home to Belgium after the most bizarre week in even FIFA’s 111-year history, said it was “high time for change” in the government of world football.
Picking up a medical metaphor, he said: “If there is an abscess then you must take a scalpel to it.”
D’Hooghe was never in doubt that Blatter would be re-elected, as he was on Friday, but also believed, along with a majority of European federations, that fresh leadership was essential.
He said: “The European position is well known. We thought it was good to have a new wind blowing through FIFA because Blatter is already 79 at the start of his fifth term. But we are subject to the democracy of the elections.
“For many weeks I had expected a smooth re-election for Blatter because I appreciate there are different opinions between on other continents and Europe.
“I thought the tornado which descended on FIFA last week would force change. That may have happened to a minor extent but, clearly not enough to create a new majority.
“I have undertaken the medical responsibility in FIFA for 27 years but I cannot reconcile myself with this role now I understand there has been so much corruption.
Pressure to stay
“If the patient has an abscess then medication is no help. You need to pick up a scalpel and cut it out.”
D’Hooghe conceded that he had come under pressure to stay from other medical specialists in world football.
He said: “I’m the only one in the executive committee with so much experience from the medical angle and other doctors have asked me not to abandon them.
“But my conclusion is clear: in this situation, when it is high time for a change in the atmosphere at FIFA, then I have no place there.
“I’m going to wait what will happen in the next few days and what else will come out. The more we know, the better.”
D’Hooghe said that he had interviewed last Thursday by Swiss invesigators about his memories of the 2018-2022 World Cup bid process. He had been a member of the exco which awarded the tournamemts to Russia and Qatar amid controversy.
He said: “On Thursday, the Swiss police asked me to testify about the way World Cups are awarded. It was very straightforward and I offered my full cooperation. I was not being questioned as a suspect but as a witness.”
Not that he believed he had anything new to offer.
D’Hooghe said: “In 2010 I did not personally witness anything suspicion in the allocations of the World Cup so there was nothing new I could tell them.
“If I had noticed anything suspicious at the time I would have informed the authorities a lomg time ago.”
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