LONDON: Britain’s Prince William has called for FIFA to reform and show that it “can represent the interests of fair play and put the sport first”.
The Prince, president of the Football Association (FA), was speaking ahead of the FA Cup final in Wembley on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
And he asked sponsors to press for reform after a week which saw seven FIFA officials arrested and 18 people connected to football indicted on corruption charges by the US justice department.
The Prince described the week as FIFA’s “Salt Lake City moment”, a reference to when, in 1998, Swiss IOC member Marc Hodler revealed that several of his fellow officials had accepted perks in return for voting to award Salt Lake City the 2002 Winter Olympics.
“There seems to be a huge disconnect between the sense of fair play that guides those playing and supporting the game, and the allegations of corruption that have long lingered around the management of the sport internationally,” he said in his pre-FA Cup final speech at Wembley.
“The events in Zurich this week represent FIFA’s Salt Lake City moment, when the International Olympic Committee went through a similar period of serious allegations.
“FIFA, like the IOC, must now show that it can represent the interests of fair play and put the sport first.”
And the Duke of Cambridge feels those in power, be it the federations or those who help fund FIFA, should put pressure on the organization to force change.
“Those backing FIFA, such as sponsors and the regional confederations, must do their bit to press these reforms – we are doing football and its fans no favors if we do not,” he said.
“I have no doubt that when FIFA reforms, its mission to spread the benefits of the game to more people, especially those in developing countries, can only be enhanced.”
David Gill has refused to take up Britain’s FIFA vice-presidency after saying it would be “futile” to serve under Blatter if he did not realise the “seismic” events of this week were a resignation issue, and the Duke praised the former Manchester United chief executive’s decision.
“At this juncture, if I may, I know I join with all of you in commending David Gill for his decision to stand down from the ExCo, and to lead by example by doing so,” he added.