LONDON: John Whittingdale, the UK’s Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport, has promised that the government will do “all in its power to stand behind the FA” over the FIFA crisis.

Further action could include the prospect of a boycott of the 2018 World Cup in Russia by the Football Association and some other European countries upset by both the corruption crisis and the re-election of Sepp Blatter.

Greg Dyke, the FA chairman who has discussed the issues with Whittingdale, has not ruled out the possibility of a boycott and meets the rest of UEFA in emergency session later this week in Berlin.

Whittingdale, answering an urgent question granted to the shadow culture secretary Chris Bryant in the House of Commons, said: “I have spoken to Greg Dyke about an alternative World Cup and whether UEFA is promoting this.

“One thing is clear; if there were any serious attempts to do that then they can only be done with strong agreement with other European nations and possibly others from around the world.

“This has to be discussed within UEFA, and I understand they meet later this week, and Greg Dyke will discuss such a matter with his colleagues. This is a matter for football to decide first. Mr Dyke is concentrating on finding allies around the world.

Criminal investigation

“As for a boycott of the 2018 World Cup by England alone; this would be self-defeating. It’s a tactic only effective with the support of a number of other countries. We will assess support for such a move and if it could be demonstrated that there was support for this then that could be effective in itself.”

Whittingdale condemned FIFA, which remains under criminal investigation by US and Swiss authorities, and its president Sepp Blatter, stating they had “failed to embrace overwhelming calls for change” and that “for the good of the game, Sepp Blatter has to go”.

He insisted that pressure must also be applied to FIFA’s sponsors, who could have a considerable part to play in any change in the governance of the world game.

“FIFA’s sponsors need to think long and hard about whether they want to be associated with a disgraced organisation,” Whittingdale said.

“If they are identified with corruption and sleaze, instead of the beautiful game, then they must consider carefully if they want to be associated with it.”

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