Fifa 'like mafia family', says former FA boss Triesman

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Media caption,

Lord Triesman told the House of Lords: "FIFA I'm afraid behaves like a mafia family."

The former chairman of the Football Association, Lord Triesman, has accused Fifa of behaving like a "mafia family".

Speaking in Parliament, the Labour peer said football's world governing body had a "decades-long tradition of bribes, bungs and corruption".

He suggested fictional mafia boss Don Corleone would "admire" its approach.

On Wednesday, at a meeting in Brazil on the eve of the World Cup, delegates paved the way for Sepp Blatter to stand for a fifth term as Fifa president.

The 78-year old indicated he would seek a new term as the head of Fifa next year, saying his "mission is not finished" and he is "ready to accompany" the organisation as it seeks to build a new future.

Fifa is probing corruption claims over Qatar's winning bid to host the 2022 World Cup, allegations that are denied by the Gulf nation but which have prompted calls for the bidding process to be reopened.

'Non-existent investigations'

Speaking during a debate in the House of Lords, Lord Triesman called for major change at the body that runs world football and organises the World Cup.

"Fifa, I'm afraid, behaves like a mafia family," he said. "It has decades-long traditions of bribes, bungs and corruption.

"About half of its executive committee who voted on the last World Cup have had to go.

"Systematic corruption, underpinned by non-existent investigations where most of the accused are exempt from the investigation, make it impossible to proceed."

Referring to preparations for the Qatar tournament, he suggested that "foreign construction workers dying in their dozens in Qatar stadium construction sites are essentially ignored".

'Eliminate corruption'

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Sepp Blatter is expected to stand for another term in office next year

He praised the "exemplary" work of British media, including the Sunday Times and the BBC Panorama programme, in revealing corruption in Fifa and said it was time for the organisation to "step up to the mark" and "eliminate corruption wherever it exists".

And he applauded the stand taken by current FA chairman Greg Dyke against the "grotesque" accusation by Fifa general secretary Sepp Blatter that criticism of the world governing body was racist.

"Don Corleone, I believe, would have recognised the tactics and he probably would have admired them."


Don Corleone was the patriarch of the most powerful New York mafia family in Mario Puzo's seminal novel The Godfather, which was turned into a series of Hollywood films.

Speaking at Fifa's Congress in Sao Paulo, Mr Blatter said the organisation must be "responsible and upright" in all its activities and "listen to all voices" about its future.

Mr Dyke is among a number of European football officials to have urged Mr Blatter to retire when his current four-year term ends next year.

But attempts by a number of European federations to limit how long a Fifa boss can remain in office and to set an age limit on incumbents, which would have effectively barred Mr Blatter from standing again, were defeated in a vote on Wednesday,

Mr Blatter, who is thought to retain the support of delegates from Asia and Africa to continue in the role, told the Congress that although it would make the final decision on would lead the organisation, "I can tell you I am ready to accompany you in the future".

The BBC's sports editor David Bond said this was Mr Blatter's strongest hint that he wanted to stay in the job for another four years.