On the eve of the 2014 World Cup, several European soccer leaders have called on FIFA President Sepp Blatter to step down at the end of his current term, which expires next year. Earlier this year, Blatter reversed a prior decision to step aside as the head of soccer’s world governing body, choosing instead to stand for a fifth term.
His campaign for re-election comes amid pressure from key sponsors over corruption allegations linked to the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to the desert nation Qatar, which is smaller than Connecticut. About a third of the FIFA executive board members who voted for Qatar’s 2022 bid have left the governing body amid allegations of corruption.
On Tuesday, Blatter addressed delegates from UEFA’s 54 members at a meeting in Sao Paulo, where several appeared to turn on him. “In the last eight or nine years, FIFA has built an ugly reputation, not only in the press but you only have to look at Twitter -- #FIFA #Blatter #FIFA Mafia,” Dutch soccer association Chairman Michael van Praag said to the FIFA chief. “There are reasons -– bribery, money and corruption are so often linked,” he added. “FIFA has a bad reputation. FIFA has an executive person and if you like it or not, you have a responsibility.”
Officials from Germany and Norway, along with former UEFA President Lennart Johansson, whom Blatter beat to win his first term as head of FIFA, also spoke out after the meeting at the Renaissance Hotel.