THE Football Association is “not interested” in stepping in to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup if they are taken away from Russia or Qatar.
In the wake of the FIFA corruption scandals, Culture Secretary John Whittingdale put England forward as a ready-made replacement to host either tournament if necessary earlier this week.
But new FA chief executive Martin Glenn has denied that his organisation is thinking in those terms, telling Sky News: “We are really not interested. It has gone to Russia in good faith, they have not had a World Cup, why shouldn’t they play there, and 2022 was never going to be in Europe so it should be outside of Europe. So we support the World Cup being dispersed around the world, as the name suggests.”
Speaking publicly for the first time since FBI investigations sent shockwaves through FIFA that led to Sepp Blatter stepping down as president, Glenn said he was relieved change is finally happening at the world governing body.
“We are very pleased that there is going to be change at FIFA, and we will work with UEFA and FIFA to make sure there is progress. We need someone who is strong and will professionalise the set-up,” he added.
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said that the way his organisation has remodelled itself following its own Salt Lake City scandal can be an example for FIFA.
“It’s absolutely important for FIFA to regain credibility for FIFA so I can only advise that they work hard at reforms and work hard on addressing these grave allegations,” he said.
“We had our difficulties 15 years ago and we did two things. We took swift action with regard to members, ten members expelled or retired, and we undertook reforms.
“I am very proud that we elected athletes to the IOC. We have a system of accountability, strict rules on the election of host countries and we have even more reforms for transparency coming.”
Meanwhile, The Football Association of Ireland has released the timeline of events which led to it receiving a ¤5 million payment from FIFA. Responding to a request by Ireland’s Taoiseach Enda Kenny, the FAI posted a blow-by-blow account on its website last night.
FAI chief John Delaney brought the issue to public attention when he said his organisation was given the sum after confronting Sepp Blatter about Ireland’s World Cup 2009 play-off defeat, brought about by Thierry Henry’s handball goal.
The fallout spilled into a summit of Ireland’s cross-border peace-building North South Ministerial Council in Dublin, where leaders called on the Irish football executive to shed light on the transaction.
Kenny described the payment as “quite extraordinary” and called on Delaney to answer questions about the circumstances surrounding it.
He said: “This is quite extraordinary. But I would say that any questions that need to be answered here in the interests of transparency and accountability… John Delaney should answer and will answer all of those questions, I’m quite sure.”
Last night, the FAI obliged, posting a 14-point list of events, including Blatter apologising to Ireland for making a joke about them – a point which was immediately followed by confirmation of the loan.
The FAI said that after Blatter made public its suggestion it should be a 33rd representative at the World Cup, he “personally apologised” at a second meeting between the FAI and FIFA on 12 January, 2010.
It then added: “After negotiation, FIFA offered the FAI a ¤5m interest-free loan by way of compensation as well as a $400,000 Goal Project grant that was used for FAI Regional Football Centres.” The FAI added that the money was paid into its account on 20 January, 2010 and was accounted for and was later reduced to ¤4m.
The FAI stated that in 2013 the loan was written off, attaching a letter signed by FIFA’s deputy secretary general, Markus Kattner, confirming as much. Delaney, Kattner and secretary general Jerome Valcke’s signatures also appear on the agreement document relating to the loan.
Earlier, Kenny had said he believed the FAI chief’s position remained “tenable” and expressed his confidence that outstanding questions about the payment would be responded to.
Sports minister Pascal Donohoe, also at the talks in Dublin Castle, said he spoke with Delaney and also pressed him to bring “clarity and certainty” to the matter.
“It is in everybody’s interest that these matters be cleared up,” he said.
The minister added: “It is primarily a relationship and transaction that took place between the FAI and FIFA and I expect that clarity will be brought to this issue.”
He added: “It is a significant amount of money, it is obviously something that the country does have a lot of interest in.”
Asked if the FAI boss retained his confidence, he replied: “I support John Delaney in his work, I know the importance of grassroots soccer throughout our country.”
The sports minister said he was “absolutely not aware” of any such payment and would be very surprised if any of his predecessors knew about it.