I'm not a football fan, but I doff my hat to Greg Dyke:
England’s football chiefs rounded on Sepp Blatter today and told him that his claim that racism was behind corruption allegations was “totally unacceptable”.
Greg Dyke, the FA chairman, responded forcefully to Blatter at a meeting of Uefa federations in São Paulo after the Fifa president had addressed the room.
Dyke said after the meeting: “I said to him, ‘I regard the comments you made yesterday about allegations in the British media in which you described them as racist as totally unacceptable.’ The allegations being made are nothing to do with the racism, they are allegations about corruption.”
David Gill, England’s Uefa vice-president, called for Blatter not to stand for election for a fifth term next year. He labelled Blatter’s decision to commit a U-turn on his 2011 pledge to stand down in 2015 as “disappointing”.
“The very fact in 2011 he was clear it was just for four years, that should have been the situation,” Gill said. “To change his mind is disappointing.”
Asked if he thought Blatter should step down next year, he said: “Yes, we need to move on. We need a full, frank and open debate about what Fifa needs going forward.”
Gill echoed Dyke in that Blatter’s comments about racism being behind the Qatar 2022 World Cup corruption allegations were “unacceptable”.
African officials were among those alleged to have taken payments from Mohamed Bin Hammam, Qatar’s former Fifa member, according to the Sunday Times.
“The statement made by Mr Blatter yesterday was from our point of view totally incorrect,” Gill said. “This was about the issue being raised quite rightly in the British media that should be addressed by the world governing body and to try and portray it as racist or a discriminatory attack is totally unacceptable.”
Michael van Praag, the Netherlands FA president, lent his support to those who are upset that Blatter is now considering standing for a fifth term in charge. “Mr Blatter, this is nothing personal but if you look at Fifa’s reputation over the last seven or eight years, it is being linked to all kinds of corruption and all kinds of old boys’ networks things,” Van Praag said.
“Fifa has an executive president and you are not making things easy for yourself and I do not think you are the man for the job any longer.
“I like you very much. This is nothing personal. But you are now saying that Qatar was the wrong choice [for the 2022 World Cup], but you are not blaming yourself you are blaming your executive committee.
“Yesterday, you said something about racism against Qatar and people are not taking you seriously any more. This is not good for Fifa and it is not good for the game.
“Yes, you are leading the reforms at the moment, but all these problems occurred in the period before the reforms and you were still president and responsible and I believe you should not run any more.”