FIFA credibility in freefall, says German league chief

By Karolos Grohmann
Christian Seifert listens during a news conference following a meeting in Frankfurt December 12, 2012. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

By Karolos Grohmann

BERLIN (Reuters) - The head of Germany's Football League (DFL) launched a scathing attack on FIFA on Saturday, saying coordinated action was needed from Europe to reform world soccer's governing body.

FIFA is in the middle of a crisis and have been fending off allegations of corruption over the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.

"One does not know if one should wonder or feel ashamed for them," DFL CEO Christian Seifert told Sueddeutsche Zeitung in their weekend edition. "It cannot be acceptable when FIFA's credibility is in a freefall."

"As a serious organisation we feel that we are not represented by this FIFA," said Seifert. The DFL is in charge of Germany's top two professional divisions.

German soccer officials have been especially unhappy with Qatar having been picked as the 2022 tournament hosts.

The tiny Gulf state, enriched by its vast natural gas resources, has virtually no football tradition, has never qualified for the World Cup and does not have the appropriate climate for a summer World Cup which has produced another huge debate about what time of the year the tournament can be staged.

Seifert stopped short of calling for a boycott but said some 75 percent of players at a World Cup were under contract in Europe. Any action against FIFA should be a coordinated action with the support of many countries.

"When Europe says 'we will not play' then that changes everything. A boycott would be a an effective weapon but one has to think things through.

"Everyone would have to agree and I have serious doubts about it. France is very unlikely to turn against Qatar with (UEFA President) Michel Platini considered a Qatar supporter.

"If it is then only Germany and England that remain then I fear it is not strong enough."

Former head of the English FA, David Triesman who led England's failed bid for the 2018 tournament, urged on Friday European nations to boycott both tournaments unless FIFA transformed itself into a transparent, open organisation.

Russia and Qatar deny any wrongdoing, and German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert's summary of FIFA-appointed investigator Michael Garcia's report said there were no grounds to reopen the bidding process.

However, Garcia said soon after that Eckert's statement contained misrepresentations and that he would refer the report to FIFA's appeal committee.