Blatter: Soccer is a victim of own popularity
FIFA president Sepp Blatter says soccer has become a victim of
its own popularity after a series of match-fixing scandals in the
Speaking after attending the Confederation of African Football’s
general assembly, the soccer’s head suggested the problem was
becoming an increasingly widespread worry for FIFA.
”Not a regional phenomenon. This has to be stopped,” Blatter
said. ”We will talk about it at our FIFA Congress.”
Blatter said the head of the international police organization
Interpol will attend the congress in May at Budapest, Hungary.
Earlier this week, the South African Football Association
convinced FIFA to give priority to investigating allegations that
international matches in the country leading up to the 2010 World
Cup were fixed.
Africa’s reputation has been damaged by a scandal in neighboring
Zimbabwe, where more than 80 players have been suspended for
alleged involvement in match-fixing. The Zimbabwe Football
Association’s former chief executive is facing corruption charges
and is accused of masterminding the fixing of games involving the
national team, where Zimbabwean players and officials are accused
of being paid to lose.
But despite the sport’s tarnished image, with Blatter’s own
organization involved in a string of corruption scandals, the FIFA
president insisted ”football is faring well.” Blatter pointed out
FIFA had more members than the United Nations, adding ”and I am
Blatter was in Gabon to attend the annual CAF meeting and the
African Cup of Nations final between Ivory Coast and Zambia on
CAF president Issa Hayatou praised co-hosts Gabon and Equatorial
for their organization of Africa’s top tournament and says the
continental body is ”satisfied.”
Hayatou shrugged off concerns over near-deserted stadiums for
some matches not involving the co-hosts. The quarterfinal between
Zambia and Sudan was particularly embarrassing with only a handful
of fans turning up at the 37,000-seat Estadio de Bata in Bata,
Organizers gave away free tickets for the semifinals, but with
both co-hosts already eliminated the stadiums were still only half
full at best.
”We would like the stadiums to be full but we do not have any
power to get people out of their homes,” Hayatou said.
Hayatou also responded to criticism that Africa’s confederation
had done little to help the victims of the Port Said stadium riot
in Egypt in which more than 70 people died.
”Do you think a tragedy like that can leave us indifferent?”
Blatter reiterated that FIFA had requested a report from the
Egyptian Football Association following the disaster in which
people were stabbed and crushed to death when fans rushed onto the
field following a league game.