EU institutions can add pressure on Fifa to change

Written by Emma McClarkin on 2 June 2015 in Opinion
Opinion

As pressure on Fifa mounts, EU policymakers could have a key role in unveiling corruption in football's governing body, writes Emma McClarkin.

The latest developments in the Fifa scandal don't appear to have been enough to oust the man at the top, Sepp Blatter. 

As TV images were released of FBI investigators carrying off documents and Fifa officials alike last week, many believed that there would be no way out for the man who continues to defy expectations in the face of public scandal. 

However, Blatter was re-elected for a fifth term, after the first round of voting, rival prince Ali Bin al-Hussein stepping out of the race even though he could have taken it to a second round. Clearly he is aware that the corrupt machine is impenetrable to outside influence. 


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But the scandal amid Blatter's celebrations is rocking Fifa to its core and now the fault lines are starting to appear, on two levels in particular.

The European football governing body Uefa, a member confederation of Fifa, is one headache that Blatter cannot continue to ignore. 

Most of the 73 votes that prince Ali received came from European football associations who are fed up of the way that Blatter and his friends are using the organisation for their own personal gain. 

The English football association, among others, are now advancing the idea of boycott of the 2018 world cup in Russia, and while Uefa president Michel Platini, an outspoken critic of the regime, has ruled out supporting that action, he has floated the idea of leading a European-wide walkout from the Fifa executive committee. 

And this is where I believe that the European institutions have a role to play in unveiling corruption. 

State leaders in the European council, such as UK prime minister David Cameron, have also been highly critical of Fifa's conduct and Blatter's re-election. 

The counterbalance to Fifa's status quo is Europe and Europe's response cannot be comprehensive without the inclusion of strong voices in the parliament and the commission too. 

I have worked in this house alongside others such as Ivo Belet in pushing for reform. Parliament will be debating this issue in the plenary session in Strasbourg next week and I hope that this can add to the pressure that Blatter is already coming under. 

This concerted effort leads us to the second fault line, and the potential breaking point for Blatter's continued reign.

Sponsors such as Visa and McDonalds are already feeling the pressure to cut ties with football's governing body. 

If parliament can speak with one voice next week, I believe that this will only add to the pressure. 

Once the sponsors start pulling their funding and Fifa officials realise that they are losing valuable revenue streams, they might start to sit up and take notice.

Money talks, as the saying goes... 

 

About the author

Emma McClarkin (ECR, UK) is a vice-president of parliament's sport intergroup

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