Time for Blatter to provide answers

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Football News

Sepp Blatter appears to be a man unable to steer clear of controversy, be it by his own design or due to the actions of members under the umbrella of his association.

When Blatter was re-elected as FIFA president in June of last year, he did so unopposed following the withdrawal from the race of Mohamed bin Hammam after accusations that he had bribed voters.

David Bernstein, the chairman of the Football Associaition, at the time called for the election to be postponed and demanded the launch of a 'genuinely independent' review of Fifa's governance structures.

This advice, however, went unheeded and Blatter secured a fourth term on the FIFA throne after his was the only name to appear on the ballot paper.

However, some nine months later, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has said that FIFA should review whether Blatter exploited his position ahead of last year's vote.

The Council of Europe passed a draft resolution at a meeting of the culture, science, education and media committee in Paris on good governance and ethics in sport, excerpts of which read:

"The assembly specifically calls on Fifa to take the necessary steps to cast full light on the facts underlying the various scandals which, in recent years, have tarnished its image and that of international football.

"The assembly insists that Fifa … opens an internal investigation in order to determine whether, and to what extent, during the latest campaign for the office of president, the candidates, and particularly the successful candidate, exploited their institutional positions to obtain unfair advantages for themselves or for potential voters."

FIFA have been surrounded by allegations of bribery and corruption in recent years, and only the English FA have aimed any public broadside at the current leadership.

Such scandals will come into focus once again next month, as Bin Hammam challenges his lifetime ban by FIFA at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, while he also accuses Blatter of playing a key part in any acts of bribery in the association.

Blatter, though, has refused to become embroiled in any war of words with his former presidential rival, and has yet to quench the thirst of those desperate for answers.

Last year, the Swiss promised to publish a court dossier regarding the collapse into bankruptcy of FIFA's former marketing agency ISL some 11 years ago, and the Council of Europe has now heaped further pressure on him to do so.

Blatter's Putin-esque accession to the summit of FIFA once again attracted the ire of many, but it is his failure to comply and prove world football's governing body are making good on their promise to reform that serves to damage his reputation further.

The intervention of the Council of Europe may finally encourage Blatter to provide access to relevant paperwork and, if he has nothing to hide, then the 75-year-old should have no problem in doing so.

Answers may finally be forthcoming when the Council of Europe's resolution is debated on April 25, with parliamentarians from 47 member states set to meet in Strasbourg.

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