VANCOUVER (Reuters) - FIFA officials were booed by the crowd before the trophy presentation at the Women’s World Cup final which was won 5-2 by the United States against Japan. Despite FIFA president Sepp Blatter staying away from Canada during the tournament and choosing, for the first time, not to present the trophy, the largely American crowd made clear their feelings about the scandal-hit governing body.
The stadium announcer asked the crowd to welcome FIFA ‘dignitaries’ on to the field and the group of around 10, led by FIFA vice-president Issa Hayatou, head of the Confederation of African Football, were greeted by loud boos. The 79-year-old Blatter conceded in an interview with German newspaper Welt am Sonntag that his first non-appearance at a Women’s World Cup final was linked to concerns over investigations into the scandal. “I won’t take any travel risks until everything has been cleared up,” he said.
Also missing from the ceremony was Jeffrey Webb, who as president of CONCACAF, the confederation which hosts Canada and finalists the United States belong to, would surely have been making the most of the photo opportunities had it not been for the scandal.
Webb is currently detained in Switzerland, facing charges in soccer’s global bribery scandal, and just two days before the final, he was charged in a healthcare fraud case in his native Cayman Islands.
It fell to Hayatou, as the most senior ranking FIFA official, to hand over the trophy to American hat-trick hero Carli Lloyd.
Hayatou was accused of selling his vote for the 2022 men’s World Cup hosting rights by a former Qatar bid employee, Phaedra Almajid. He has denied the allegations and U.S. prosecutors have not accused him of any wrongdoing. Burundi FA president Lydia Nsekera, the sole elected female member of FIFA’s executive, was also on stage as part of the awards ceremony along with Victor Montagliani, head of the Canadian Soccer Association and U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati.
Editing by Ian Ransom