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Sepp Blatter must go, says former FIFA official

London: FIFA's credibility cannot be rescued until Sepp Blatter leaves his role as president, a former member of the world governing body's independent governance committee said on yesterday.

Sepp Blatter
Sepp Blatter

Speaking at the International Centre for Sport Security's 'Securing Sport' conference in London, Michael Hershman, an expert in transparency, accountability and governance, called for a change of leadership at FIFA.

Blatter has been president since 1998 and last month declared his intention to run for a fifth term. "I'd rather see more anger (towards FIFA) than cynicism," Hershman said.

"If we're going to change organisations like FIFA, we're going to have to put pressure on the stakeholders, put pressure on the sponsors, put pressure on the federations to demand change.

"FIFA was the most difficult assignment (of my career) and probably the most unsatisfactory. "I, at this point, don't believe FIFA will ever have enough credibility unless there is a change in leadership."

FIFA has no plans at present to publish a report by former United States attorney Michael Garcia into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments.
Hershman called for it to be made public, with the names of some witness redacted to protect them.

"I would like to see FIFA release the report with appropriate protection for people's privacy," Hershman added. "Without the release of a report, FIFA is going to continue to be ridiculed for lack of a commitment to transparency."

Hershman was surprised that, after a number of FIFA's executive committee spoke of the need to make the report public, a statement followed a recent meeting to declare there had been no such demands made.

"That gives you some idea of the internal pressures people face within FIFA to toe the line," Hershman added.ends

Hershman believes a change of culture is needed at FIFA, pointing to the extravagant gift giving, such as the Brazil 2014 World Cup organisers' decision to give watches to football officials.

"Some of the members of the executive committee frankly are dinosaurs," Hershman added. "After all FIFA has been through, how do you accept a 16,000 US dollars watch? What makes you do that? Have you been asleep the last few years.

"I realise the watches didn't come from FIFA, but the people who accepted them know what the new rules and code of conduct is. "Under anyone's interpretation, that's too excessive a gift."

Hershman believes it is "virtually impossible" for Blatter to be dethroned, suggested the Swiss "thinks he's indispensable" and that any rival presidential candidate - such as Jerome Champagne - has next to no chance of a successful campaign.

"It's very difficult to stand a chance against Sepp Blatter," Hershman added. "I think president Blatter should resign for the good of the sport and for the good of the organisation.

"He was in a leadership position when all of these scandals happened. He hasn't taken personal responsibility.

"It's true that he hasn't been found to have been involved in any personal wrongdoing. But in my experience when you have organisations which are continually under a cloud, one of the most effective ways to come out of that cloud is to change the leadership."

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