ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA suffered another blow to its prestige on Monday when the Nobel Peace Center announced it was ending its cooperation with soccer’s scandal-plagued governing body.
The Oslo-based center had been behind the Handshake for Peace initiative which had been enthusiastically promoted by FIFA President Sepp Blatter over the past three years.
FIFA had promoted pre-match handshakes between team captains and officials as the Handshake for Peace and had been hoping to introduce it at the end of games as well.
The announcement came three days after Interpol suspended a 20 million euro ($22 million) arrangement with FIFA on fighting match-fixing.
The FBI is investigating bribery and corruption involving FIFA officials, including scrutiny of how FIFA awarded World Cup hosting rights to Russia and Qatar. At the end of last month nine current or former FIFA officials and five business executives were indicted on corruption charges.
Blatter was re-elected for a fifth term as FIFA president at the end of May but he announced four days later that he would stand down and call a new election as the corruption allegations continued to batter FIFA.
Blatter, 79, has urged those present to share in a handshake at almost every public appearance he has made since the initiative got off the ground in 2012.
“The board asks the administration to terminate the cooperation with FIFA as soon as circumstances allow,” said the Nobel Peace Center in a statement.
It did not give a specific reason for the decision and did not address the scandal facing FIFA. The Center could not be immediately reached for comment.
FIFA was not immediately available for comment. “The board also asks the administration to start a dialogue with the Norwegian Football Association for the Handshake for Peace initiative to continue in the future,” the center said.
The center said the agreement with FIFA would not end immediately “but that a dialogue starts about the ending of the cooperation from the side of the Nobel Peace Center.”
FIFA, in a fact sheet on its website, said that “the Handshake for Peace is a gesture of friendship and respect intended to inspire the world to unite in peace, solidarity and fair play.” FIFA said it had endorsed the initiative “as part of its mission to build a better future through football.”
Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Martin Howell