LONDON: Sepp Blatter’s shock resignation as FIFA president on Tuesday (Jun 2) was hailed as “great for football” by one of his chief critics, English FA chief Greg Dyke, who said he suspected a “smoking gun”.
Dyke, who told BBC World he lost faith in Blatter last year, said he thought the 79-year-old Swiss realised the mounting corruption scandal that has engulfed world football’s governing body ‘was getting close to him’.
“It is a good afternoon! I think it’s brilliant for world football. This is the start of something new,” said Dyke. “When I left on Friday (when he was re-elected for a fifth term) I said ‘this is not over’ – but even I couldn’t have thought it’d be over so soon.
“Why didn’t he step down last week? Clearly there’s a smoking gun of some sort. He’s not been honourable in years. Now he’s gone – let’s celebrate. The whole organisation of FIFA needs re-structuring. The whole organisation needs looking at financially.”
Dyke added that FIFA under Blatter has done some good, including taking the World Cup to Africa for the first time in 2010, but added: “It’s all been done under a cloud of corruption and today it ends.”
However, Dyke said that with Blatter due to go, the hosts of the 2022 World Cup Qatar should be very nervous. One of the two investigations involving FIFA is a Swiss one regarding the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively. “If I was in Qatar I wouldn’t be very confident,” said Dyke, who was involved with the bid for the 2018 edition.
Indeed Dyke said the reason he began to turn against Blatter was down to the latter’s dismissive attitude to an article in The Sunday Times – often a purveyor of stories on FIFA – last year. “I got very upset with Blatter a year ago after an excellent article in the Sunday Times regarding the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar,” said Dyke.
“He dismissed it as just being racist. I found that offensive and it was then with (Dutch FA president and who withdrew from the presidential race the week before the election) Michael van Praag that we formed a platform against him.”
However, Dyke, a former leading television executive with roles including Director-General of the BBC, ruled himself out of being a candidate to replace Blatter. “My wife might kill me if I did,” he said.
He said, though, that the next president would have to be pure as driven snow. “They must have an impeccable character and be able to run an organisation where corruption has been rife for years … a lot of people could do the job.”
Football Association vice-chairman David Gill, who had said last week he intended to resign from the FIFA executive committee if Blatter remained, has indicated he will now reconsider his decision.
“As I announced following the election at FIFA congress, I simply could not countenance serving on the FIFA executive committee alongside Mr Blatter,” Gill said in a statement released by the Football Association.
“I respect his decision but am pleased he is standing aside and by the clear determination for real change within FIFA. This in turn allows me to reconsider my position.
“Having yet to confirm formally my resignation, I am more than willing to play my part in helping to bring about a positive future for FIFA and to work with the many people within the organisation who are only committed to developing and promoting the game around the world.”
British Secretary of state for Culture, Media and Sport John Whittingdale told BBC Radio 5 live: “I hope football can now come together. The chasm was created by Blatter wanting to hang on. Europe was supporting an alternative candidate and as long as he was there it was going to be difficult to move forward. I now hope everyone can come together to make the changes required.”
In Zurich, UEFA president Michel Platini hailed Blatter’s resignation as a brave and difficult decision. “It was a difficult decision, a brave decision, and the right decision,” Platini said in a statement.
Asked whether the Frenchman would be a candidate to succeed Blatter, the UEFA press service said there would “no more statements today.”
Platini had called several times for Blatter to resign. But he announced last year that he would not be a challenger to Blatter who was re-elected to his post only last Friday. Platini, who turns 60 later this month, has not ruled out standing in the future.