THE BLOG

We Must Consider Leaving Fifa Over Sepp Blatter's Re-Election

30/05/2015 00:02 BST | Updated 29/05/2016 10:59 BST

I've loved football since I was a kid. I have vague memories of Spain '82 but it was Mexico '86 that really got my boots pumping and my imagination blowing. I was Gary Lineker. We all were. Every kid in my neighbourhood wanted to be him. We'd never seen him play before and as we huddled around TVs, the World Cup brought our precious Panini sticker collections to life. Players from countries we'd never heard of transformed from mullets on a page to legends before our eyes.

That is what the World Cup should be about. It inspires future generations of players, fans, coaches, journalists and even armchair commentators. It brings nations together in one rainbow coalition of footballing splendour. What is happening right now is a million miles away from the romantic glory of the World Cup and instead bringing utter shame on our beautiful game.

For a long time now FIFA has been at the centre of allegations that suggest it is a deeply flawed and corrupt organisation. The Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee that I sat on spent a long time looking at these allegations, as uncovered by the excellent work of the insight team at the Sunday Times, without whom many of which may never have come to light. The revelations, followed by the arrests earlier this week, have dragged the reputation of football into the mud.

FIFA had a chance to conduct a thorough, independent and transparent investigation into the allegations but failed to do so. The Garcia report was not published in full and did not even look at some of the most serious allegations. The suggestion earlier this week by Sepp Blatter, the man who has presided over decades of opaque operations at the top of football, that he cannot be held responsible for the actions of others is laughable. Every level of the game has watched with incredulity the behaviour of President Blatter. Football needs a chief to uphold the highest standards of governance, transparency and accountability, none of which any of us can confidently say will ever happen under his stewardship.

The English FA, along with other nations in UEFA, is right to have supported Prince Ali in his challenge to Mr Blatter. It is extremely disappointing that the elections went ahead as scheduled given the seriousness of the allegations that led to the arrests of members of the executive. However the outcome shows why Blatter and FIFA insisted they did because the threat of revolt from other nations beyond the UEFA family is growing stronger.

What happens over the course of the next few days, weeks or months will determine the future direction of the world's governing body.

Change must happen. I want to see strong action from the FA and UEFA to up the ante on Sepp Blatter and FIFA. My boss the Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said in the House of Commons on Thursday that leaving FIFA would be a "nuclear" option but one that would have to be carefully considered by our footballing authorities if Blatter won. And he is spot on. A UEFA withdrawal from FIFA would certainly damage the World Cup and put real pressure on Sepp Blatter's leadership.

The actions of commercial sponsors will be key too. They should be putting pressure on FIFA to reform now or walk away, withdrawing their sponsorship and their millions that prop up football's world governing body.

Football Associations across continents work together on key aspects across the game, ranging from hooliganism through to player development. Nothing can be greater now than the need to work together on leadership and governance. I have written to my counterparts across EU countries to provide the political support for their position on FIFA. In order to force change at the top then UEFA need to know that they have their politicians firmly behind them.