Sleaford and North Hykeham MP Stephen Phillips has today (Thursday) been pressing the Government to act on allegations of corruption within football governing body FIFA.
Mr Phillips was today granted an Urgent Question in the House of Commons by the Speaker following news of the US Department of Justice indictment of several FIFA officials.
The Secretary of State was forced to return to the House of Commons to answer Mr Phillips’ questions, in which he asked what the government was doing to ensure that football fans in the UK could be confident about FIFA’s governance in the future, raised the question of what action would now be taken to investigate whether the UK’s 2018 failed World Cup bid was unsuccessful due to FIFA corruption, and sought assurances that the Government was working with the Home Nation Associations to postpone the forthcoming election of a new FIFA President.
Speaking in the House of Commons Mr Phillips said: “Football is our national game. It is the most played and watched sport in the United Kingdom and worldwide. The whole House will share my concern that following the events of yesterday, under the failed leadership of Sepp Blatter, FIFA has again let down fans.
“Can the Secretary of State assure football fans across the country that his department will make the reform of FIFA a top priority, so that the organisation serves football worldwide and does not exist merely to line the pockets of its own officials?
“Although I doubt the Secretary of State has yet read the 161 page indictment preferred by the US Attorney General, he will know from his work on the Select Committee in the last Parliament that the English FA made an unsuccessful bid for the 2018 World Cup which cost something in the region of £19 million. That bid had the backing of HRH Prince William of Wales and David Beckham amongst others, but received only two votes. So what investigations does he now intend to carry out to examine whether that bid failed due to the bribery and corruption of FIFA officials?”
The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, John Whittingdale, replied that he agreed that FIFA should be a guardian of the sport, and that its officials should not “seek to profit personally from the passion of the game’s fans”. He stated his support for “significant and wide-ranging reforms” at FIFA.
Commenting afterwards, Stephen said: “For those of us who love the beautiful game, these revelations about FIFA may not be surprising, but they are shocking. I am pleased that the Speaker granted my Urgent Question today, and that government is taking this matter seriously. What now needs to happen is a full investigation at the heart of FIFA, and the enaction of substantial reforms to ensure that this can never happen again and that football fans around the world can trust in FIFA’s governance of our sport.”