English Soccer Chairman Bernstein Concerned About FIFA Reforms

English soccer chairman David Bernstein said he wouldn’t “hold his breath” that FIFA President Sepp Blatter makes major reforms when he unveils measures to tackle wrongdoing later this month.

Blatter was re-elected to a fourth term earlier this year after his only opponent, Mohamed Bin Hammam, withdrew amid vote-buying allegations. He promised structural changes after soccer’s world governing body received criticism from fans, sponsors and clubs.

Bernstein, who failed to have the presidential vote suspended at the FIFA Congress in June, said most of his 53 counterparts in the European confederation also expressed little hope that real changes will materialize from Blatter’s announcement on Oct. 20.

“We had a UEFA strategic meeting two weeks ago in Cyprus and there was great disappointment expressed there about the lack of progress that FIFA are making in terms of governance,” he told an audience at the Leaders in Football conference in London.

“There is a FIFA executive committee this month and we are hoping something will come out of that but I wouldn’t hold your breath,” he said. “Running 210 nations or so is not an easy job. UEFA has influence, but is one fifth of FIFA and every nation has one vote. It’s a difficult nut to crack, we will just have to see what Mr. Blatter will do.”

Caribbean Voters

Bin Hammam, who was head of soccer in Asia, received a life ban from the sport after an inquiry led by former Federal Bureau of Investigation director Louis Freeh concluded he tried to pay Caribbean voters $40,000 each to choose him over Blatter. Bin Hammam denies the allegation.

Jack Warner, a former FIFA vice president who’d been with the organization for more than two decades, was also under investigation for arranging Bin Hammam’s meeting but quit the sport before a verdict could be passed.

Blatter’s reform needs to be agreed upon by FIFA’s 24-member decision-making panel. At one point, one-third of that body was either under investigation or suspended amid corruption allegations linked to the vote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and the presidential election.

Bernstein also said he’d received an apology from Julio Grondona, a FIFA vice president and head of soccer in Argentina, over comments made about England at the FIFA Congress.

“We always have attacks from England which are mostly lies with the support of journalism, which is more busy lying than telling the truth,” Grondona, 78, told FIFA’s 208 members.

Bernstein said he was “pleased to receive a letter of apology from the Argentinean president Grondona following his unacceptable comments about England in Zurich.”

Editors: Bob Bensch, Christopher Elser.

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