UEFA President Lennart Johansson and the UEFA Executive Committee have called for a FIFA internal audit committee to be allowed to resume its examination of the financial situation within world football’s governing body.
A statement issued after a meeting of the UEFA Executive Committee in Stockholm today said that the committee strongly condemned the actions of the FIFA President, Joseph S. Blatter, in attempting to suspend the work of the internal audit committee (IAC) – a move which the statement said was in violation of the FIFA Statutes.
‘The Executive Committee believes that is essential for the future credibility of FIFA that the IAC restart its work before 3 May, and provide a full and detailed report on their findings ahead of the forthcoming FIFA Congress,’ it added.
Interests of world football
‘The UEFA Executive Committee believes that it is in the interests of world football that the FIFA President accepts that transparency and accountability are properly established within FIFA,’ added the statement. ‘If he has nothing to hide, then let the truth be established.’
Full and open investigation
At a press conference following the UEFA Executive Committee meeting, Mr Johansson reiterated his call for FIFA’s finances to be subject to a full and open investigation, and outlined his support for the president of the African confederation CAF, Issa Hayatou, who is standing against Mr Blatter in the FIFA presidential election in Seoul, Korean Republic, at the end of May.
Mr Johansson said that the FIFA Emergency Committee had no power to approve the FIFA internal audit committee’s suspension. ‘The FIFA Executive Committee is the only body which can stop the investigation,’ he added. ‘Therefore, we demand that it proceeds as of the beginning of next week.’
In another statement, the chairman of the FIFA internal audit committee, David Will, said that as the IAC was being prevented from continuing its task, he would proceed with his own enquiries as a Vice-President of FIFA and a FIFA Executive Committee member, and would report to the FIFA Executive Committee on 3 May.
Nothing in the statutes
‘I can find nothing in the FIFA Statutes allowing the President to suspend a committee set up by the Executive Committee of FIFA,’ Mr Will’s statement said. ‘The Emergency Committee equally has no right to overturn a decision of the full Executive Committee when the remedy of consulting the full Executive Committee is readily available.’
When asked about the reasons for his stance towards Mr Blatter, Mr Johansson said that the financial controversy which emerged in the wake of last year’s collapse of FIFA’s marketing partner ISL and the FIFA President’s approach towards Europe had been key aspects in his changing his viewpoint.
‘For four years, I was supporting Mr Blatter, and we had discussions in quite a good atmosphere. Until last autumn, when we were wondering about the effect of the ISL bankruptcy,’ said the UEFA President. ‘We were promised a full audit by Mr Blatter by the end of October – it never came.’
Mr Johansson said that Mr Blatter had also attacked Europe ‘time after time’, calling for, among other things, reduced European membership of the FIFA Executive Committee and a reduction in the number of places allocated to Europe in the FIFA World Cup.
‘This is, for me, a very curious situation which I have never experienced before,’ said the UEFA President. ‘I’m bitterly surprised about what is happening. I also feel guilty for the reputation of football. Perhaps I should not have reacted at all, but I was put in a situation where I had to speak up. I also have my personal prestige to protect. I have been attacked by the FIFA President in personal letters, and that I cannot accept.’
Support for Hayatou
Mr Johansson said that Issa Hayatou’s honesty was a key factor in his support for the CAF president. ‘I have worked together with Issa Hayatou for 12 years. He represents all that I expect from a President.’
Transparency, loyalty and solidarity
‘He has presidential behaviour, he is a very honest man, he is working for transparency, for loyalty and for solidarity, and he has shown through the years that he is able to sit on the other chair and listen, even to those who do not immediately have the same opinion as he has,’ he added.
Duty as UEFA President
Mr Johansson continued: ‘It is my duty as President of UEFA to take such a stance and make it official. But I leave it to every other member of the Executive Committee and to all the national associations to make their own observations and reflections, which will be finally reflected in their vote on the day when the FIFA president is elected.’
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