Blatter should leave now - Germany's football boss


  • Football
  • Saturday, 06 Jun 2015

Wolfgang Niersbach, President of German Football Federation (DFB), waits for the start of the opening session of the 39th Ordinary UEFA Congress in Vienna March 24, 2015. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

BERLIN (Reuters) - FIFA president Sepp Blatter should step aside quickly so that world football's governing body can move forward with urgently needed reforms, the head of Germany's football association (DFB) said on Saturday.

In an interview with Reuters, DFB President Wolfgang Niersbach said it was also essential for FIFA to rigorously clear up the bribery allegations and for a new FIFA leadership to implement sweeping reforms to restore lost credibility.

"We strongly advocate that the announced resignation be done quickly now to clear the path for a fresh start," said Niersbach, the world's largest FA with 6.8 million members.

Blatter announced on Tuesday, days after being re-elected for a fifth term, that he would step down. He is intent on staying in office until an extraordinary congress finds his successor -- between December and March.

That delayed departure has drawn strong criticism in Germany. German sport minister Thomas de Maiziere said Blatter's resignation will be worthless if FIFA fails to enact meaningful reforms and end cronyism tarnishing it.

FIFA was plunged into the worst crisis in the organisation's 111-year history on May 27 when Swiss police staged a dawn raid in Zurich and arrested several officials on corruption charges.

"The basis needed to win back the trust that's been lost is to first of all completely clear up everything," said Niersbach. "Towards that goal, a new leadership has to come up with a comprehensive reform package and rigorously implement that."

Niersbach, 64, said he did not know what prompted Blatter to abruptly change his mind and announce his resignation after winning re-election. Germany had opposed his re-election.

"That's a question for Sepp Blatter," he said when asked why Blatter changed his mind. "But it's difficult to understand why a Congress was called and then the resignation was announced four days later."

Niersbach, whose name has been mentioned as a candidate to succeed Blatter, said he is focused on his job in Germany. Elected to the FIFA executive committee in March, he would bring a modern reformist approach while fostering global cooperation.

"I've always said my main focus is on soccer in Germany," he said when asked if he wanted to lead FIFA.

He added Germany, a four-times World Cup winner and a country with comprehensive soccer organisations at all levels, was eager to take a constructive leading role in FIFA's time of troubles.

"There's the principle of 'one country, one vote' in FIFA," he said when asked if Germany should have more weight in FIFA.

"But we in the DFB are taking our responsibility seriously in these difficult times. That's why I agreed to the new role in the Executive Committee (of FIFA) in Zurich," he said.

Niersbach has been critical of both FIFA's handling of a report on corruption for the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup as well as picking Qatar for 2022.

(editing by Justin Palmer)

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