FIFA has certainly not been making a lot of friends recently, but one member of UK’s House of Lords has made his feelings about the organization clear when he likened the organization to a “mafia family.”
Lord Triesman, a member of the house since 2004 and the former chairman of England’s Football Association (FA), spent his debate time on the floor on Wednesday to attack soccer’s international governing body just before the World Cup kicked off in Brazil today.
"FIFA, I'm afraid, behaves like a mafia family. It has a decades-long tradition of bribes, bungs and corruption," he said. “About half of its executive committee who voted on the last World Cup have had to go.”
'Don Corleone, I believe, would have recognized the tactics and he probably would have admired them.'
Triesman also slammed FIFA President Sepp Blatter's attempts at addressing the corruption allegations surrounding the award of the 2022 World Cup, comparing him to the mafia don from the Hollywood movie The Godfather.
“Don Corleone, I believe, would have recognized the tactics and he probably would have admired them,” he said.
The legitimacy of the decision to award the 2022 World Cup bid to Qatar has increasingly come under fire in recent weeks. New allegations by the Sunday Times of London on June 1 suggest that soccer officials received more than $5 million in exchange for a favorable vote for the oil-rich emirate.
Michael Garcia, FIFA’s top investigator and a former US attorney, is currently investigated these claims and will submit a report in around six weeks time.
Blatter himself called the decision a “mistake" last month, but he has not backed down in defending the 2010 vote.
"Once again there is a sort of storm against FIFA relating to the Qatar World Cup. Sadly there's a great deal of discrimination and racism and this hurts me," Blatter told a group of delegates from Asia and Africa on Monday.
During his speech on Wednesday, Triesman also commended current FA chairman Greg Dyke for responding to Blatter personally.
“I said to him, 'I regard the comments you made yesterday about allegations in the British media in which you described them as racist as totally unacceptable. The allegations being made are nothing to do with the racism, they are allegations about corruption,'” Dyke said after a pre-World Cup meeting this week. Dyke also told Blatter that he was ruining FIFA's reputation and should step down from his post.
At the 64th FIFA Congress in São Paulo on Wednesday, Blatter implied he was considering running for a fifth term as president.
"I know that my mandate will finish… But my mission isn't finished. I tell you, together we will build the new FIFA," Blatter said at the event. "Congress, you will decide who will take this great institution forward. It's your decision. But I can tell you I am ready to accompany you in the future."
Triesman has been vocal with his concerns about FIFA for some time. He was particularly critical after allegations first surfaced in 2011 that the body’s executive committee had accepted $1.5 million in bribes for the Qatar bid.
Most recently, Triesman told the Telegraph that everyone had been aware of problems within FIFA for a long time, but that the body was not “sufficiently proud of their reputation, ever, to do anything about it.”
Some have accused the House of Lords member and his fellow British critics of holding a grudge against FIFA after the England's bid lost to Russia in the vote to host the 2018 World Cup. Triesman stepped down as FA chairman in 2010 after he was "entrapped" by a former aide and his unguarded claims about bribery and collusion by the Russian and Spanish bids were leaked to the media.
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