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'Get out', world media tells Blatter!

By Rediff Sports Desk
Last updated on: May 28, 2015 18:33 IST
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FIFA was plunged into crisis on Wednesday, two days before Sepp Blatter stands for re-election for a fifth term, when Swiss police arrested seven officials in Zurich at the request of United States authorities for alleged corruption.

Check out how foreign media reacted to the news.

FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter

FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter attends a press conference. Photograph: Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images

Everyone around is saying that it is time for Sepp Blatter's long reign as president of soccer's governing body to come to an end, even if there is no evidence that the Swiss is personally corrupt.

World media demanded that FIFA's veteran president step down following the shock arrests of top officials in the organisation, suspected of corruption and fraud.

In Britain, the Times handed FIFA a ‘Red Card’ in an editorial warning that ‘Sepp Blatter is bringing world football into disrepute’.

In Germany, the Bild tabloid front page simply called for Blatter to ‘Get out!’, while an article inside Europe's most read paper referred to him as ‘The Godfather’, demanding ‘in the name of millions of football fans’ that he step down.

The Guardian, meanwhile, held its nose at ‘The stench of corruption’, while the Sun tabloid decried the role of ‘Sepptic Blatter’, lamenting that he had allowed the development of "a cancer at the very heart of the beautiful game".

"He must go!" shouted the front page of the Le Matin daily in Switzerland, where FIFA is based and where its annual congress kicked off Thursday.

"Blatter has no more credibility," it added, a day after seven football officials were swept up in a police sting at a luxury Zurich hotel.

In football-crazy Italy, the La Repubblica said ‘an earthquake has hit Blatter's FIFA'. "It's official: the world of football is a world of thieves," the paper wrote.

France's Liberation continued the mafia theme with ‘FIFA Nostra’ emblazoned on its front page beside a mock-up of the cover of Mario Puzo's The Godfather book featuring a football on a puppeteer's strings.

In The Netherlands, De Telegraaf splashed "FIFA the fraud" across its front page.

The Times of South Africa slammed the ‘World Cup of fraud’, decrying that ‘even South Africa's 2010 triumph’ had been ‘blighted by FIFA corruption’.

In Australia, which sank some Aus $43 million (US $40 million) into its unsuccessful 2022 cup bid, media hailed the investigation that could get to the bottom of allegations bribery was behind the award to Qatar.

"Anything that brings on the long overdue cleaning out of the stables at FIFA is a good thing," former Soccer Australia chief David Hill told the Sydney Morning Herald.

The paper's football writer Michael Lynch described Blatter as "the man most closely associated with the culture of sleaze and corruption that has characterised the governing body of the world's most popular sport".

Australian Les Murray, a former member of FIFA's Ethics Committee, writing in a post on SBS TV's website, he said he expected Blatter to be re-elected if the ballot went ahead as scheduled on Friday but thought it would be better for the game if he did not.

"Despite the long-running innuendo and the stench of corruption hovering over FIFA’s highest offices there has never been any hard evidence put forward that Blatter himself is corrupt or that he ever took a bribe," he wrote.

Murray said the politics of FIFA would ensure that Blatter would be re-elected but Bonita Mersiades, who worked on the Australian World Cup bid and has alleged widespread corruption in the process, said she thought the arrests might prove a watershed.

"Certainly it gives the world of football an opportunity on Friday to get FIFA’s house in order," she told Sydney's Daily Telegraph.

"If the 209 members of FIFA care more about football than they do their positions, then we could see some progress."

State media in Russia -- locked in a standoff with the United States over Ukraine -- offered a rare defence of FIFA, instead slamming the US investigation as a bid to wrench the 2018 World Cup from Russia's grasp.

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