English Premier League chairman Sir David Richards does not believe allegations of corruption at FIFA have seriously damaged the English game.Richards was happy the claims were being properly probed, despite an independent investigation apparently clearing executive members of any wrongdoing.
He also reaffirmed the English FA’s desire to have the FIFA presidential election postponed, despite the stance coming under fire from several fronts – including Argentina Football Association president Julio Grondona.
FA chairman David Bernstein tried to have Wednesday’s vote delayed, with Sepp Blatter set to be elected unopposed for another four-year term.
Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed Bin Hammam had been due to contest the election, but withdrew from the race when he and CONCACAF president Jack Warner were alleged to have offered cash to Caribbean Football Union officials for their vote.
A delay will not happen, however, after the FIFA Congress voted heavily against a postponement on Wednesday.
When asked if he felt the controversy surrounding FIFA had damaged the reputation of English football, Richards replied: “No not at all. The English FA and English football is in a good state and I think we will be fine.”
But while Richards backed the FA’s stance, FIFA senior vice-president and AFA president Grondona accused those in the English game of ‘always complaining’.
Grondona said he voted for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup because he thought ‘a vote for the US would be like a vote for England’ and claimed he would only have voted for the English bid if they handed the Falkland Islands back to Argentina.
FIFA has been repeatedly criticised by the English media, which accused the body of corruption before the 2018 and 2022 World Cup votes.
“To present such a project as David Bernstein presented is like shooting a penalty because it cannot be always from the same place that the insults and problems come from,” Grondona said.
“I see it at every congress. They have specific privileges with four countries having one vice-president. I don’t know what our president has said, but we have seen the World Cup go around the world, to South America and Africa and it looks like this country does not like it.”
“It looks like England is always complaining so please, I say, will you leave the FIFA family alone, and when you speak, speak with truth.”
“Yes, I voted for Qatar, because a vote for the US would be like a vote for England, and that is not possible.”
“But with the English bid I said: ‘Let us be brief. If you give back the Falkland Islands, which belong to us, you will get my vote’. They then became sad and left.”
As the controversy surrounding world football’s governing body continues, protestors gathered outside the conference to demonstrate against FIFA’s tax status in Switzerland.
They allege that FIFA avoided paying tax in the country by having non-governmental agency status.