David Davies: There is overwhelming pressure from within and without for reform of Fifa

The pressure to postpone the election can only grow. There is a real opportunity here for the FA
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The Independent Online

I've seen some uncomfortable news conferences in my time – and I've chaired some myself – but I've seen few as uncomfortable as this one.



I expected that Sepp Blatter would be cleared, but the key thing that came out yesterday was that one of either Blatter or Jack Warner did not tell the truth about the alleged payments to Caribbean nations to the ethics commission.

My instinct is that neither Warner nor Mohamed bin Hammam will take their suspensions lying down, and, regardless of whether the presidential election goes ahead on Wednesday, these matters are not going to go away. The pressure to postpone the election can only grow, and there is a real opportunity here for the Football Association.

The only way for the election to be postponed is for 156 of the 208 members to vote against accepting the existing agenda for the Congress. But, from talking to the multitude of foreign visitors who were in London for the Champions League final over the weekend, I have no doubt that there is real concern about the damage being done to Fifa's reputation, and to the individual reputations of the good people within the organisation and the football family.

Every instinct in my body is against abstaining in these situations, but I fully understood why the FA decided on that policy, and increasingly it is looking like they have been vindicated. Coupled with their abstention, however, they should do their best to go out and persuade other members to join them. If 50, 60, or 70 other football associations from around the world do the same thing with England at the vanguard, that would be making a big statement.

A Fifa break-up is not really a realistic proposition, but, crucially, there is the will for reform. For the first time, there is now real discussion going on between the leaders of individual football associations about what is going on within Fifa – and, informally at least, politicians and governments are getting involved as well.

It has all stemmed from the concerns that grew out of the announcement last December on who would be hosting the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, and the bidding process that led up to it. The 2022 decision in particular, which awarded the tournament to Qatar, caused a huge furore around the world. The Americans and the Australians were not alone in feeling very upset about that decision.

I was surprised they took any questions at the news conference yesterday. They would say that they did so for reasons of transparency, but I didn't think their argument as to why the presidential election should have to go ahead when there is only one candidate was very well articulated.

If you are looking for change in an organisation, you need internal pressure and external pressure to come together at the same time – and I believe that both of those now exist. I don't think Fifa will just go back to normal.

The writer is a former executive director of the Football Association

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