BRUSSELS: The FIFA Candidates’ debate due to be held at the European Parliament in Brussels has fallen apart writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The discussion’s credibility wss already in doubt after the inability of UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino and Asian confederation presdent Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa to attend.
Now both Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan and South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale have pulled out, the latter following Prince Ali’s lead.; in any case Prince Ali had planned to appear only via video link.
This leaves only former FIFA official Jerome Champagne to appear in person though Infantino has offered a video presentation.
Damian Collins the British MP behind the organising platforms the European Parliament’s Sports Intergroup and #NewFIFANow said he understood that either Infantino or Sheikh Salman had complained to the FIFA electoral committee that the forum would breach election rules.
Writing to Marc Tarabella MEP, chairman of the Sports Intergroup and Collins, Prince Ali said that he had been advised that the forum “may well constitute a breach of FIFA election rules” and that one of the two candidates previously not participating had “made a complaint to the Ad Hoc Electoral Committee” on the basis of political interference.
Collins refuted the claim.
He said: “We are merely trying to put legitimate questions about the future of FIFA to presidential candidates as members of various parliaments as well as on behalf of fans and other key stakeholders.
“Any organisation interested in, or committed to, democracy, transparency and accountability would understand this as should the people who want to be FIFA president.
“We are just seeing the same old FIFA at play and they have learned nothing about what they need to do to try to rebuild trust and credibility from the broader community.”
Collins said he had written to Domenico Scala, chairman of FIFA’s electoral committee, seeking clarification.
He added: “Rather than helping to rebuild FIFA’s credibility in the broader community, this outcome will just add to the impression that people at FIFA do not want open discussion about the future and reform of the organisation.
“Why don’t the FIFA Presidential candidates want to be subject to the same level of questioning and scrutiny that would be normal in any organisation run on democratic principles?”
A live web stream will be available from the European Parliament, but ESPN has cancelled its live broadcast due to the withdrawals.