PARIS: Tennis superstars Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray waded into the great football corruption scandal on Thursday (Friday in Manila), suggesting the game would be better served without FIFA chief Sepp Blatter’s iron grip on power.
Nadal, who is the nephew of former Spanish international Miguel Angel Nadal, believes that for Blatter to have been FIFA president since 1998 breeds an unhealthy environment in the sport.
“My thought is it is good to have combinations, in politics, in sport, in the world in general,” said Nadal at the French Open on Thursday.
“It’s good to have the right people in every place. It’s good to have people who know about what they are doing, in football, in tennis, in countries.
“I cannot say that if you are in the same place for a long time you will not be honest, but it’s true that history says that is easier to be honest if you are in shorter periods of time.
“You are there and you come back later. The alternating is good in every place of the world, I think.”
Blatter faces a re-election vote at the FIFA Congress in Zurich on Friday (Saturday in Manila), having insisted on Thursday that would not resign despite growing calls for him to do so.
Britain’s third seed Murray echoed Nadal’s words, after his straight sets win over Portugal’s Joao Sousa, saying that the corruption charges aimed at FIFA officials this week had not been totally unexpected.
“I’ve seen the stories, but I wouldn’t say that many people were surprised by it,” he said.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen over the next few days. But when I read the stories, I haven’t had anyone come up to me and say it was very surprising.
“But I think it’s good for sport in a way when that stuff happens, because people have kind of talked about it for a long time.
“People have suggested that there was some corruption going on there. So now they are going to do a proper investigation into it and see what happens after that.”
Federer, Sharapova take center stage
Meanwhile, former winner and second seed Roger Federer and women’s champion Maria Sharapova take top billing on Friday (Saturday in Manila) as they target places in the French Open fourth round.
Federer, the 2009 Paris champion, bids to record his 64th match-win at Roland Garros when he faces Damir Dzumhur, the only male player from Bosnia/Herzegovina to contest a major.
Dzumhur, the 23-year-old world no. 88, is one of only two players— men or women—from Bosnia to feature at a Grand Slam.
Mervana Jugic-Salkic is the only woman from the country to play a major—losing in the first round at Roland Garros in 2004 and 2005 and at Wimbledon in 2004.
Former junior Roland Garros champions Stan Wawrinka and Gael Monfils are also both in action.
Swiss eighth seed Wawrinka will face American Steve Johnson while Monfils will meet Pablo Cuevas, who is looking to become the first Uruguayan man in 16 years to reach the round of 16 at a major.
There is plenty of interest for home fans with Gilles Simon, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Benoit Paire and Nicolas Mahut also all on court on Friday.
Sharapova, who was also champion at Roland Garros in 2012 and runner-up in 2013, faces 2010 runner-up Samantha Stosur of Australia for a last-16 place.
Frenchwoman Alize Cornet, the 29th seed, gets proceedings on Court Philippe Chatrier underway by facing Croatia’s Mirjana Lucic-Baroni who knocked out third seed Simona Halep in the second round.