Europe should weigh World Cup boycott to oust FIFA's Blatter, UK says

Sun May 31, 2015 12:08pm EDT
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By Andrew Osborn and Alice Baghdjian

LONDON/ZURICH (Reuters) - Britain said Europe should consider boycotting future World Cups if Sepp Blatter doesn't quit as head of soccer's governing body over a corruption scandal, while Swiss authorities denied they would soon question the newly re-elected FIFA president.

The Swiss-born FIFA chief complained on Sunday he had been shown "zero respect" in recent days, revealing how he had rejected advice from one of his main critics, the head of the European governing body, to quit at last week's FIFA congress.

John Whittingdale, the British government minister with overall responsibility for sport, renewed calls for Blatter to step aside on Sunday, saying all options should be considered when it came to pressuring him to resign, including boycotting the World Cup - something that could split the sport and be calamitous for the tournament.

Blatter, 79, won a vote on Friday to serve a fifth term as FIFA president even though the U.S. Department of Justice has charged nine soccer officials with corruption and Swiss authorities are conducting their own criminal investigation.

He has played down the impact of the scandal on one of the world's most powerful sports bodies, which takes in billions of dollars in revenue from TV marketing rights and sponsorships.

Blatter is not accused of any wrongdoing personally and has implied that the United States timed news of the charges to try to scupper his re-election.

Asked how he had coped with the criticism in the past few days, he told the Swiss newspaper Sonntagsblick: "Let me put it this way: I've been shown zero respect."

Blatter's future could yet depend on the reaction of FIFA's major sponsors and stakeholders such as Coca-Cola and McDonald's, who have been dismayed by the arrests and U.S. prosecutors announcing indictments of officials and companies.   Continued...

Re-elected FIFA President Sepp Blatter pauses before news conference after an extraordinary Executive Committee meeting in Zurich, Switzerland, May 30, 2015.  Blatter has been re-elected as FIFA president for a fifth term after Jordan's Prince Ali bin Al Hussein conceded defeat at the Congress of world football's governing body on Friday.   REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann