With the U.S. Department of Justice investigating and indicting FIFA officials for alleged corruption and bribery, the President of the United States of America has now spoke about the scandal for the first time.
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On Monday Obama was asked about FIFA’s current situation in a press conference at the G7 summit in Germany and talked at length about the embattled organization who is in the midst of its worst crisis since it was formed in 1904 as the FBI continues its investigations and is now reportedly looking into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids of Russia and Qatar respectively.
The president of the U.S. refused to speak directly about the ongoing case U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has brought against FIFA and the decision by Sepp Blatter to stand down as president of world soccer’s governing body, but he did have some interesting views to share.
Mr. Obama, over to you…
“With respect to FIFA I cannot comment on a pending case by our attorney general,” Obama said. “I will say that in conversations I’ve had here in Europe people think it is very important for FIFA to be able to operate with integrity and transparency and accountability.
“And so as the investigation and charges proceed, I think we have to keep in mind that although football – soccer, depending on which side of the Atlantic you live on – is a game, it’s also a massive business, it is a source of incredible national pride and people want to make sure that it operates with integrity. The United States, by the way, since we keep on getting better and better at each World Cup, we want to make sure that a sport that’s gaining popularity is conducted in an upright manner.”
I think every soccer fan across the globe can echo Obama’s views that “integrity, transparency and accountability” need to be the cornerstones of a revamped FIFA when Blatter is finally replaced as president later this year, or March 2016 at the latest, following the extraordinary congress he has called.
Also, it’s clear that Obama is expecting the U.S. national team to at least reach the quarterfinals of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. No pressure at all to Jurgen Klinsmann and his squad…