Gary Neville believes Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi boycotting the World Cup would finish Sepp Blatter as Fifa president

Blatter has been elected to lead the governing body for a fifth term

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Gary Neville has claimed that if Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi boycotted the World Cup then the tournament "would not exist", and Sepp Blatter's tenure as Fifa president would come to an end.

Writing in his Telegraph column, Neville said that the players, rather than fans and sponsors, hold the key to unseating Blatter after he was re-elected for a fifth term as the head of football's governing body.

While Neville said the responsibility of leading a concerted movement lay not with individuals but with associations and organisations set up to act in the interests of players, such as the PFA, he suggested the impact that the game's two best players boycotting the world's biggest tournament could have.


"Just think of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, the two biggest stars in the game right now, and consider a World Cup without those two," Neville said.

"The tournament would not exist if Ronaldo and Messi turned their backs on the World Cup because of the way Fifa is running the game. This would impact sponsors and broadcasters and in turn bring this whole debacle of an organisation to a standstill."

Neville spoke of his own reputation for being a "political" footballer, which earned him the nickname "Red Nev" after he attempted to lead the England squad in a strike in 2003 over Rio Ferdinand being omitted from the side after missing a drug test.

Neville attempted to lead a player strike in 2003 (AFP/Getty)

"But this is different," the Sky Sports pundit and England coach said. "It is about smart thinking and players uniting through FIFpro to rid the game of the stain that is currently damaging it.

"Sepp Blatter has reigned over turmoil for years now and he is the man at the top of the operation, but he is still in charge and it is beyond laughable and unprecedented, in politics, sport or industry, where one individual can remain in power like this."

Blatter was elected for his fifth term at the helm of football's governing body in Zurich on Friday despite not gaining a majority vote over Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, his only opponenent.

He had been overwhelming favourite to win despite a week in which 14 current and former Fifa executives were arrested as the organisation faced two separate criminal corruption probes. No charges have been brought action Blatter.

Upon his re-election, the 79-year-old said: "I thank you, you have accepted me for the next four years. I will be in command of this boat called Fifa. We will bring it back off shore."