PARIS: French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Thursday urged FIFA to delay its presidential election over a corruption scandal that has engulfed the world football body.
“There have been years of corruption allegations in this sector,” he said, adding he supported a vote delay so officials could “take some time, see what is founded, unfounded.”
“Otherwise there will be an even more disastrous image of this body,” Fabius told France Inter radio, adding an election delay would be “good sense”.
FIFA — which is responsible for organizing the world’s biggest sporting event, the football World Cup, every four years — has long been dogged by allegations of graft.
Corruption investigations in Switzerland and the United States this week led to the arrests of seven officials and raised questions about dodgy dealings in the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.
The US investigation said South African officials paid $10 million in bribes to host the 2010 tournament, which Pretoria denied.
French President Francois Hollande said sporting organizations who pick the hosts of such massive events must be “irreproachable”.
France, hosted the World Cup in 1998 and is bidding for another major world sporting event, the Summer Olympics, in 2024.
“We are a candidate for big competitions. I trust the organizations who take these decisions. It is up to these organizations to shine a light on what has happened in past years,” Hollande said.
The scandal has led to a chorus of calls for FIFA leader Sepp Blatter, who has led the organization since 1998 and is seen as the favorite to win Friday’s election, to step down.