LONDON (Reuters) - FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, acts like a mafia family, a British peer said on Wednesday, likening the tactics of its president Sepp Blatter to the head of the fictional crime family in the Hollywood move The Godfather.
In comments likely to anger FIFA and Blatter, David Triesman, the former head of English soccer’s governing body, told the upper house of Britain’s parliament that FIFA was corrupt and any investigations it conducted into itself were cover-ups.
“FIFA, I’m afraid, behaves like a mafia family. It has a decades-long tradition of bribes, bungs and corruption,” said Triesman.
A spokesman for FIFA declined to comment on the remarks.
The peer, who for a while ran England’s unsuccessful bid to host the 2018 World Cup, has made previous allegations about FIFA, saying that four of its members solicited bribes in exchange for votes.
FIFA later said all four men had been cleared of the allegations in an independent report commissioned by the FA.
FIFA is under pressure over allegations into corruption surrounding the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and some senior soccer officials have said that Blatter should not stand for a fifth term as the body’s president next year.
Triesman said he backed Greg Dyke, the current chairman of England’s Football Association, for speaking out against Blatter’s dismissal of the criticism as racist.
“Don Corleone, I believe, would have recognised the tactics and he probably would have admired them,” Triesman said.
Vito Corleone was the head of the fictional crime family in The Godfather movies.
The fact that Triesman made the comments in the British parliament means his remarks are subject to “parliamentary privilege” and therefore he enjoys immunity from legal action.
While Karl-Heinz Marotzke of the German FA dismissed Triesman’s remarks as “embarrassing” and “absolute nonsense”, the head of another football association attending FIFA’s annual congress in Sao Paulo, who declined to be named, said: “I think a lot of people here might think the same way.”
Reporting by Andrew Osborn, Kylie MacLellan and Mike Collett; Editing by Ed Osmond