The show goes on in Canada despite FIFA crisis

Fri May 29, 2015 10:57pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

HAMILTON, Ontario (Reuters) - Despite the storm raging in world soccer, the show must go on and Canada and England met in a women's friendly in front of a passionate sellout crowd on Friday that offered hope the game can survive its latest crisis.

Deflated and weary from a week of shocking scandals triggered by a U.S. investigation into allegations of rampant corruption, fans tuned out the controversy and slipped into national team jerseys, filling Tim Horton Field and soaking up the passion of two teams preparing for the Women's World Cup that will kick off in Edmonton on June 6.

"For these women, it is not about the money, it's about the game, it renews your faith," said England supporter Kevin Mackowski. "And it's good soccer, it's a truly beautiful game."

The party atmosphere inside the stadium provided a stark contrast to the gloom and despair that has hung over the sport since FIFA was rocked to its core by the arrest of seven senior officials as part of a probe into widespread financial wrongdoing.

Battered but unbowed, Sepp Blatter was re-elected president of FIFA for a fifth term on Friday despite demands that he quit in the face of a major bribery scandal that plunged soccer's governing body into the worst crisis in its 111-year history.

The players from both squads did their best to keep the focus on the action on the pitch but may be facing a losing battle with FIFA fallout set to overshadow their World Cup which will run from June 6 to July 5 in six cities across Canada.

Blatter's re-election has raised fresh questions over his leadership with the possibility of civil war in international football and unhappy sponsors demanding reform.

But none of that was a concern for the two coaches whose laser-like focus is locked in on a World Cup now just eight days away.   Continued...