(WFI) Former England World Cup bid leader Andy Anson has raised serious doubts about Sepp Blatter’s willingness to implement meaningful reforms in the aftermath of the scandal-hit 2018 and 2022 bidding process and FIFA presidential election.
“I don’t have faith because they’ve no record to date of actually taking this issue seriously enough,” Anson told Sky News.
“But you would hope that losing someone with the experience of [Mohamed] bin Hammam, with Jack Warner having to resign and move away from FIFA, that they will suddenly realise this is an incredibly serious issue.”
However, he poured scorn on the FIFA president’s plan to recruit opera great Placido Domingo to his “solutions committee”. In June, Blatter confirmed that he had asked former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, Domingo and Johan Cruyff to join his panel of “wise men” to advise on ways to tackle corruption.
“For me, the worst thing that happened was, after the incidents in the summer with Mohamed bin Hammam and Jack Warner, the whole issue about puttining Placido Domingo on an ethics committee was laughable,” Anson said.
“As a response to what were incredibly serious allegations at the time, to come up with something that seemed so superficial actually cemented this view in people’s minds that FIFA doesn’t have the level of credibility or integrity it needs to run this game. And that’s got to be addressed.
“It’s a prolonged crisis and I think it’s something that has been going on far too long. FIFA need to put an end to all the rumours because there’s always been this issue about what’s true and what’s a rumour.
Blatter is due to announce his long-awaited anti-corruption reforms in two weeks time.
But Anson doesn’t believe they will be anywhere near far-reaching enough to help world football’s governing body restore its battered credibility.
“The whole world is watching, in a way… a lot of people anticipating but I have to say I think most people are not waiting for great results because FIFA has not had a track record of taking this issue seriously in the past,” he said.
Asian football boss Bin Hammam was found guilty of attempting to bribe Carribean football voters during the FIFA presidential election and handed a lifetime ban in July. CONCACAF president Jack Warner was alleged to have colluded with the Qatari and quit FIFA before its ethics body could sanction him.
In total, a third of FIFA’s 24-member Executive Committee have either been handed various bans or faced bribery allegations in the past year, most relating to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding campaigns.
Anson urged FIFA to follow the example set by the IOC in stamping out corruption following the damaging Salt Lake City bribery scandal. Ten IOC members quit or were banned for life for accepting bribes from the city’s bid team. The IOC tightened up its rules on bidding and adopted a wave of reforms to show the world it was tackling corruption and to prevent any repeat of the bidding scandal.
Senior IOC member Dick Pound yesterday criticised Blatter’s handling of the World Cup bid bribery scandals at a conference in Cologne. The Canadian also urged FIFA to learn from the way the IOC had cleaned up its image after the Salt Lake City scandal.
In June, Anson joined UK-based sports retailer Kitbag as its new chief executive.
It was Anson’s first full-time post since England’s humiliating first-round elimination in FIFA’s vote for the 2018 host city last December. Anson is a former commercial director at Manchester United.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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