Fifa press chief sacked over TV police joke

THE fall-out from ongoing corruption and bribery investigations at Fifa has continued with the sacking of communications director Walter De Gregorio.

Fifa communications chief Walter De Gregorio has been sacked over comments made during a Swiss TV appearance. Picture: AP
Fifa communications chief Walter De Gregorio has been sacked over comments made during a Swiss TV appearance. Picture: AP

De Gregorio had been Fifa’s most visible public face since the arrests of seven Fifa officials in a dawn raid in Zurich two weeks ago, the effects of which have brought the organisation to its knees.

However, he appears to have overstepped the mark after making a joke on Swiss TV presenter Roger Schawinski’s show earlier this week.

The joke was: “The Fifa president, secretary general and communications director are in a car. Who’s driving? Answer: The police.”

It made headlines in the Swiss media but Fifa’s leaders were not amused.

President Sepp Blatter’s public relations adviser also criticised De Gregorio in an article, and after the communications director confronted Blatter he was shown the door.

Despite a statement which said De Gregorio had decided to “relinquish his office with immediate effect” it is understood he has been fired on the orders of departing president Blatter.

De Gregorio will, however, serve Fifa on a consultancy basis until the end of this year.

Blatter, who last week announced he will stand down once a new president can be put in place, has finally admitted the situation at Fifa is rocky.

However, even then he was able to sugarcoat his assessment.

“Fifa is going through difficult times. This makes me all the more proud that our organisation runs smoothly in a crisis,” Blatter told The Fifa Weekly.

World football’s governing body confirmed on Thursday the extraordinary meeting of its executive committee will take place on July 20 in Zurich. During the meeting, the agenda for the elective congress will be finalised and approved.

Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor believes circumstances will only change once the players are on board.

Taylor told the European congress of FIFPro, the world players’ union: “The game has been tainted and besmirched with corruption at the highest level by custodians who have ‘feathered their own nests’ with monies meant to be used for facilities, pitches and players all over the world.

“The time is here to clean out the corruption and to place ourselves at the top table as guardians of the game.

“Our record is one of transparency not opaqueness, accountability not of obfuscation.

“We cannot and must not leave a vacuum in Fifa to be filled with the same toxic problems as before.

“If we do not intervene now we will forever regret it. We can start by recognising that if we do not do it and get to the high table it will be left to government organisations like WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency), Interpol, the FBI, Justice Departments and the Inland Revenue.

“A game for players about players has not been run by players and we are now seeing the results.”