Former FA boss: Boycott SWC

David Bernstein (AFP)
David Bernstein (AFP)

London - England's Football Association (FA) should get behind the German push to force reforms from world ruling body FIFA and join its European counterpart UEFA in a boycott of the next World Cup if there is no change, former FA boss David Bernstein has said on Monday.

"At some stage you have to walk the talk, stop talking and do something," Bernstein told the BBC.

FIFA came under new pressure for reforms last week after it declined to publish in full a report by US lawyer Michael Garcia into allegations of corruption in the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, to be held in Russia and Qatar, respectively.

"I think England within UEFA undoubtedly have the power to influence FIFA but to do so they would have to consider withdrawing from the World Cup, the next World Cup, unless proper reform - including Mr (Sepp) Blatter not standing (for a fifth term) - is carried out at FIFA.

Asked if he would support a UEFA boycott of the World Cup, Bernstein replied: "Unless it could achieve the reforms that would bring FIFA back into the respectable world community, yes I would.

Bernstein, whose 3-year term at the head of the FA ended last year, said a European boycott of the 2018 World Cup in Russia could be sufficient pressure for radical change.

"There are 54 countries within UEFA. There's Germany, Spain, Italy, France and Holland - all powerful - (and) you can't hold a serious World Cup without them. They have the power to influence if they have the will."

His words backed those of German Football League president Reinhard Rauball who last week said UEFA, one of FIFA's six continental federations, could leave the world body unless it changed its ways and made public an ethics report.

Rauball, also the president of Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund, said unless FIFA published the most recent ethics report, UEFA should consider leaving.

"An option which will have to be seriously considered is certainly that of UEFA parting from FIFA," Rauball told German football magazine Kicker on Friday.

Bernstein condemned the "totalitarian set-up" within FIFA, adding "bits of it remind me of the old Soviet empire. People don't speak out and if they do they get quashed."

The former Manchester City chairman called FIFA's award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar "clearly one of the most ludicrous decisions in the history of sport."

"Qatar is clearly a totally unsuitable place to hold a World Cup," he said.

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