Unrealistic boycott could splinter sport, experts say

Thu Dec 4, 2014 10:06am EST
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By Brian Homewood

ZURICH (Reuters) - A European-led boycott of FIFA or the World Cup is unrealistic in the foreseeable future and, even if a breakaway were to eventually take place, experts say it could leave soccer's administration hopelessly splintered.

FIFA has been plagued by a wave of scandals and controversy, ranging from allegations of corruption in the 2018/2022 World Cup bidding process to a row over $25,000 watches gifted to executive committee members at the World Cup in Brazil.

Anger mounted last month when a FIFA's ethics report identified inappropriate and "problematic" conduct by people involved in a number of bids involved in the race to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, won by Russia and Qatar respectively, but found insufficient grounds to recommend a re-vote.

With soccer's governing body seemingly oblivious to criticism and its president Sepp Blatter favorite to be elected for a fifth term in May, there have been calls for co-ordinated action to force change.

Two former English FA chairmen, David Bernstein and David Triesman, have called for European teams to boycott the 2018 World Cup, while German Football League president Reinhard Rauball pondered the idea of UEFA's member associations pulling away from FIFA.

"In the short to medium-term this is a completely unrealistic option, and statements coming out of the likes of England are Germany are simply shots across the bows of FIFA," said Simon Chadwick, professor of sport business strategy and marketing at Coventry University in central England.

"Longer term, it is a possibility... but it's a big call for the dissenting nations as it would create a multitude of political and organizational problems for domestic and continental associations."


The logo of soccer's international governing body FIFA is seen on its headquarters in Zurich October 3, 2013. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann