Andrew Jennings exclusive: Blatter and FIFA must be shamed into change

Andrew Jennings, the man behind a series of BBC Panorama programmes detailing alleged corruption within FIFA, has exclusively told A Different League that the recent revelations will be a tipping point for football’s governing body.

Speaking on the eve of the FIFA presidential election, in which Sepp Blatter is the only candidate after Mohammed Bin Hammam’s withdrawal, Jennings said: “You can’t go on like this. There are now I think 10 members of the 24 member executive committee with serious legal question marks against them. You can’t come back from that and I think it will be a tipping point. Things will have to change.”

Jennings added that while FIFA’s sponsors are speaking out publicly, the real issue is what is being said behind closed doors. “They have spent a lot of money in FIFA, but it doesn’t all come at once. It comes in payments. They could hold some back and say to FIFA ‘we have invested a lot of money in you and we want this sorting out.'”

Adidas released a statement this week that said: “The negative tonality of the public debate…is neither good for football nor FIFA and its partners,” while Coca Cola added: “The current allegations being raised are distressing and bad for the sport.” While Jennings feels the corporations can have an impact, he stresses there are other ways to get the change so many in football desire: “The sponsors aren’t the only way. What I would love to see tomorrow is the national associations walking out when Blatter comes to the stage. They do have the power to change things if they really want to.”

Welcoming the move by the FA to call for the election to be postponed, Jennings noted that acting late was better than not acting at all. “I’m glad they finally did something. At last! It’s all well and good people saying they took their time but they’re doing something. And the Scottish FA too, it’s only a few weeks ago they were supporting Blatter. I’m Scottish so I’m really ashamed at that.”

Jennings added that the campaign from Conservative MP Damian Lewis and pressure group ChangeFIFA was a worthy cause. He said: “I think Damian Lewis is doing a good job, he’s trying to make something happen. [The Sports Minister] Hugh Robertson should be listening and saying ‘I’ll stand alongside you.’ His counterpart at Holyrood [the seat of the Scottish parliament] should be too but I think she’s hiding under the bed. What football needs is the same kind of accountability and transparency we have in government. Football needs freedom of information.”

“But the only thing that will really get rid of this cabal controlling world football is the world turning its back on Blatter. After that press conference yesterday it is coming, he did himself more damage with that. I want it to get to the point where people cross the road to walk away from him. If he is embarrassed he will walk away.”

Further Reading

Panorama’s Andrew Jennings on England’s World Cup bid, FIFA and the media

Andrew Jennings on British media, Platini, and Panorama

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