Football supporters from across the continent unanimously adopted a resolution calling for FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s immediate resignation at last weekend’s European Football Fans’ Congress. The demand followed the latest revelations in the bribery scandal around FIFA honorary president João Havelange, detailed in documents produced by the Swiss Supreme Court and published by FIFA.
The documents reveal that Blatter knew senior officials, including Havelange, were paid bribes by marketing company ISL. Exclusive TV rights to the 2002 and 2006 World Cups were subsequently granted to ISL. The company went into liquidation in 2001.
Blatter admits he knew about the payments but maintains he did nothing wrong as such dealings were not illegal under Swiss law at that time. “You can’t judge the past on the basis of today’s standards. Otherwise it would end up with moral justice,” said Blatter during an interview with FIFA.com.
In November 2010 BBC Panorama’s FIFA’s Dirty Secrets alleged that three high-ranking FIFA officials had received bribes from ISL. The investigation was led by Andrew Jennings (FSF Writer of the Year 2006/07) who delivered a keynote speech on this very subject at the FSF’s annual conference in 2011. A BBC statement said the latest revelations were vindication for Panorama and Jennings.
European Football Fans’ Congress 2012
The resolution calling on Blatter to go was passed by members of Football Supporters Europe (FSE) at its annual European Football Fans’ Congress which took place in Istanbul, Turkey, from Friday 13th – Sunday 15th July 2012. Around 500 fans’ representatives from 32 countries were in attendance.
FSE is the independent democratic network of football supporters across Europe currently representing more than 3m supporters in 41 countries. The three day event in Istanbul was hosted by fans’ groups from rival clubs Fenerbahce, Besiktas, and Galatasaray who worked together for the first time.
Turkish supporters also organised a first ever national network meeting with the vision to unite beyond rivalries and speak up to tackle existing problems around violence, safety and security, away travel bans, and black market ticket issues in Turkish football. The conclusions formed the basis of an unprecedented meeting between Turkish fans and the Turkish Football Federation.
The growing authority of the FSE Fans’ Congress was reflected in a greater-than-ever attendance by representatives of national and international institutions, such as FA representatives, UEFA, the European Commission, FIFPro, Transparency International, and investigative journalist/international match-fixing expert Declan Hill.
Istanbul was an extremely pertinent choice of venue given the panel discussion on match-fixing, an increasingly hot topic in Turkish and international football, with calls from speakers for urgent preventative action harnessing the input of fans.
The following representatives were elected onto the FSE Executive Committee for the season to come: Kevin Miles (England), Martin Endemann (Germany), Riccardo Bertolin (Italy), Joanna Laska (Poland), Michal Riecanský (Slovakia), Linda Hadorn (Switzerland), Igor Gomonai (Ukraine).
They are joined by the appointed members from the newly founded on-topic divison of FSE on anti-discrimination Goran Malic (Croatia), the director of the FSE Fans’ Embassy division Michael Gabriel (Germany) and FSE coordinator and chief executive Daniela Wurbs (Germany).
Thanks to thesportreview for the image used in this article, reproduced under CC license.
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