LONDON: FIFA’s reform process has done nothing for its image with Hugh Robertson, the British Sports Minister, who hopes Michel Platini takes over the presidency “as soon as possible” writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Robertson made his comment after having described the world football federation as a “byword for corruption” during an interview with BBC Radio Five about the latest twist in the Qatar 2022 saga.
On Friday the executive committee of the world football federation decided to set up a lengthy ‘consultation’ with no decision on a winter staging switch until late 2014 or 2015.
A baffled Robertson said: “I can’t see any reason why this decision should take so long. The International Olympic Committee always makes the athletes the most important people and that approach has been entirely missing from this [Qatar] debate.
“I can’t think it’s sensible for footballers to play the desert heat in the middle of summer.”
Robertson noted that FIFA’s ethics commission was investigating events surrounding the contentious 2018 and 2022 bidding campaign.
He also defended the strategy of major sports organisations in taking the big events to all corners of the world but cautioned that, “even if there is no evidence to suggest the decision was flawed, the finals need to be moved to a time of the year when footballers can give it their best.”
Robertson compared FIFA unfavourably with the ‘new’ IOC which has evolved since the Salt Lake City scandal. The world federation, he said, was “a byword for corruption” and change was needed, most urgently in an end to the rule of Sepp Blatter as president.
Robertson said: “I have been over to UEFA on a number of occasions and met [UEFA president] Michel Platini and was extremely impressed by him.
“I think he understands the need for change. I would absolutely back him 100pc. He’s a man with an unparalleled footballing pedigree and I hope he takes over as soon as possible.”
The next FIFA presidential election is in 2015. Platini has said he will not make a decision whether to run until after the World Cup finals in Brazil next year.