FIFA president denies crisis despite calls for reform
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Pressure mounted on FIFA Tuesday to make widespread reforms following a string of corruption charges, despite denials by President Sepp Blatter that the football association was in crisis.
AFP - FIFA faced fresh calls for sweeping reform here Tuesday despite denials from President Sepp Blatter that football's corruption-tainted governing body was in crisis.
Senior Australian officials led by FIFA ethics committee member Les Murray said the organisation needed wholesale changes after weeks of explosive allegations that have exposed the murky world of football politics.
"I think the reform has to be very deep," Murray told the Sydney Morning Herald. "In all reality, there probably has to be complete structural and also constitutional reform.
"The structure of the organisation at the moment is too political. Decisions are based on political motives, and that's not healthy for any organisation. That simply has to change."
Murray was speaking in the wake of the suspension of Blatter's election rival Mohamed bin Hammam and FIFA vice-president Jack Warner following allegations they offered bribes in the campaign to oust long-serving supremo Blatter.
The suspension of Asian football chief bin Hammam, who has denied any wrongdoing, has left the way clear for Blatter to be re-elected unopposed at FIFA's congress on Wednesday.
The suspensions followed weeks of revelations which have alleged several other members of FIFA's executive committee were involved in corruption during the votes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
However embattled president Blatter adopted a defiant stance in a press conference before journalists at FIFA headquarters on Monday where he denied the organisation was in crisis.
"Crisis, what is a crisis?" a clearly irritated Blatter said. "We are not in a crisis. We are only in some difficulties and these will be solved within the FIFA family.
Blatter also rejected suggestions that the vote for the 2022 World Cup -- controversially awarded to the oil-rich Gulf state of Qatar -- should be held again amid mounting allegations of bribery involving the bid.
"There is no issue for the World Cup in 2022," the 75-year-old Swiss said. "I believe that the decision taken for the World Cup in 2022 was done exactly in the same pattern and in the same way as the 2018 tournament."
But Australian Sports Minister Mark Arbib was unimpressed, becoming the latest foreign government official to call for change at FIFA.
"There is no doubt there needs to be reform of FIFA. This is something that we're hearing worldwide," he said.
"There is no doubt now that there needs to be a thorough investigation of all of the claims made, by the Ethics Committee, but certainly everyone would accept, even FIFA must accept, there must be reform of the organisation."
Meanwhile the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) expressed its "deepest concern" at the suspension of bin Hammam.
Chinese deputy Zhang Jilong, promoted to acting chief while the Qatari fights to clear his name, said the AFC still regarded bin Hamma as its leader.
"FIFA suspended bin Hammam but he is still the president of the AFC. FIFA has no right to prevent him from acting (in) his role in the AFC," Zhang said, according to the China Daily.