England boycott of World Cup would be ridiculous, says Greg Dyke

Greg Dyke
Greg Dyke
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The head of English football said boycotting the World Cup alone would be “ridiculous” but said pressure could be put on other footballing nations for support in the wake of the Fifa corruption row.

It comes after the Duke of Cambridge urged world football’s governing body to “show that it can represent the interests of fair play and put the sport first”.

Uefa has not ruled out asking European nations to snub the footballing tournament if re-elected Fifa president Sepp Blatter does not step down following the arrest of football officials over decades of “rampant” corruption this week.

But FA chairman Greg Dyke told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that Britain would not be able to make a stand against Fifa without wider support.

“Putting pressure on Sepp Blatter is pretty impossible,” he said.

“But putting pressure on other footballing nations and putting pressure on sponsors is a good idea, I think.”

Speaking of a boycott, he added: “It would be ridiculous to try and do it on your own. All we would do is pull out of the World Cup and everyone would say ‘well done’ and forget all about us.

“It’s got to be done by enough nations for it to have an impact, if it’s done, but I don’t think Blatter will last four years.

“We were without doubt one of the stronger voices this week saying something has got to be done but I don’t think there’s any point the FA doing it on its own, we’ve got to do it along with other countries, alongside other large footballing nations.”

The proposal of a Fifa World Cup boycott was first threatened by Uefa head Michel Platini, who will meet European footballing nations next week to decide how they take a stand against Mr Blatter.

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale told the Sunday Times that England and Uefa were right to consider turning their backs on the tournament, adding “no options should be ruled out”.

Earlier, former England playyer Gary Neville said football stars including Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo should show a “united force” and wield their power against corruption amid the ongoing Fifa scandal, former England footballer Gary Neville has said.

The ex-Manchester United defender and England coach said the threat of a World Cup boycott from the game’s biggest names would bring the governing body “to a standstill”.

Neville said he normally believed players should “stay out of the politics of the game”.

He said: “However this is about players wielding their power against corruption. I would expect management committee members of PFA’ s around the world to demand to know what could be done to ensure that the voice of the players was heard.”

Neville, a Sky Sports pundit, said the world football players’ union, FIFPro, should be “canvassing the opinion of every national team captain in the world to find out their views and feelings about the situation”.

“I am not suggesting that players should go out on a limb by going on strike, but Fifa and Blatter would be nothing without the players,” he wrote. “It would need to be a co-ordinated and united force.

“Just think of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, the two biggest stars in the game right now, and consider a World Cup without those two.

“The tournament would not exist if Ronaldo and Messi turned their backs on the World Cup because of the way Fifa is running the game. This would impact sponsors and broadcasters and in turn bring this whole debacle of an organisation to a standstill.”

Neville’s comments came after under-fire Sepp Blatter was voted in for four more years as Fifa president, despite the arrest of seven Fifa officials on corruption charges.

More than a third of FIFA’s 209 associations voted for Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan as significant numbers turned against Mr Blatter following the crisis that has struck the world governing body this week.

The Swiss bureaucrat, 79, won the first round by 133 votes to 73, but he failed to gain a two-thirds majority, and Prince Ali, the 39-year-old Sandhurst graduate, then withdrew from the contest rather than force a second round of voting.

The election in Zurich was held amid the continuing fall-out from the arrest of seven Fifa officials in the city and a total of 18 people connected to football indicted on corruption charges by the US justice department.

Football Association chairman Greg Dyke, who had earlier backed the idea of a co-ordinated European boycott of the World Cup, said: ‘’This is not over by any means. To quote the Attorney General this is the beginning of the process, not the end.”

Mr Blatter had told the 209 associations who gathered for the Fifa Congress that the crisis would not have happened if countries other than Russia and Qatar had won the vote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

In what appeared a reference to the United States and England losing out, Mr Blatter called for unity.

Most of the media investigations into Fifa have come from Britain, while it is the US justice authorities whose actions led to the indictments of 18 people, including charges that a Fifa bank account was used to channel a 10million US dollar (£6.54million) World Cup voting bribe.

Mr Blatter said: “If two other countries had emerged from the envelope I think we may not have these problems.”