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Cameron urged to hold Fifa summit

Published 31/05/2015

The Duke of Cambridge, pictured with the FA Cup, urged sponsors to press for reform of Fifa
The Duke of Cambridge, pictured with the FA Cup, urged sponsors to press for reform of Fifa

Labour has urged David Cameron to hold an emergency summit over Fifa corruption claims to ensure Britain does not "idly stand by".

Chris Bryant MP, Labour's shadow culture secretary, wants politicians, the English Football Association, British sponsors and broadcasters to establish a "common position" and give "serious consideration" to withdrawing from all future Fifa competitions.

In the letter to Prime Minister, released to the media, he said Britain "cannot just be commentators or spectators".

It comes amid calls to boycott the World Cup after under-fire Fifa president Sepp Blatter was re-elected as leader on Friday, despite the arrests of football officials on suspicion of decades of bribe taking.

He wrote: "The recent events at Fifa have sickened and angered everyone who cares about football in this country and overseas. I hope you will agree that Britain cannot stand idly by, but should do everything possible to make sure that there is swift reform and that you will also agree that all those engaged in corrupting international sport are properly punished.

"I am writing to urge you as a matter of urgency to bring together all the British sponsors of Fifa and the World Cup, all the UK broadcasters and the Football Associations of the Home Nations in order to establish a common position.

"If no substantial change is forthcoming at Fifa, serious consideration should be given to the option of Uefa withdrawing from Fifa and coordinating alternative competitions.

"Fifa is not fit for purpose. It needs fundamental and urgent reform, which Mr Blatter cannot deliver. It is completely inappropriate for him to be President while so many aspects of Fifa are under investigation - including his own election in 2011."

He added: "We cannot just be commentators or spectators, shouting at the TV or complaining from the side lines. We must be on the pitch itself, putting pressure on Blatter and Fifa. I await your reply."

The head of English football said boycotting the World Cup alone would be "ridiculous" but said pressure could be put on other footballing nations for support.

Uefa has not ruled out asking European nations to snub the footballing tournament if Blatter does not step down and is due to meet with its members next weekend.

FA chairman Greg Dyke told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show that Britain would not be able to make a stand against Fifa without wider support and called on uefa head Michel Platini to show leadership.

"Putting pressure on Sepp Blatter is pretty impossible," he said.

"But putting pressure on other footballing nations and putting pressure on sponsors is a good idea, I think."

Speaking of a boycott, he added: "It would be ridiculous to try and do it on your own. All we would do is pull out of the World Cup and everyone would say 'well done' and forget all about us.

"It's got to be done by enough nations for it to have an impact, if it's done, but I don't think Blatter will last four years.

"We were without doubt one of the stronger voices this week saying something has got to be done but I don't think there's any point the FA doing it on its own, we've got to do it along with other countries, alongside other large footballing nations."

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale told the Sunday Times that England and Uefa were right to consider turning their backs on the tournament, adding "no options should be ruled out".

Labour leadership hopeful Andy Burnham added his voice to calls for England to pull out, given the "current appalling state of Fifa".

He told BBC Radio 5 Live's Pienaar's Politics: "I've been listening carefully to what the FA have been saying over the last 48 hours and they have talked about a boycott, but they've then said but only if others do it with us.

"Well I think maybe they should just be a bit stronger personally. I think they should say, what I think many people feel, it's just not acceptable."

The Serious Fraud Office is assessing ''material in its possession'' relating to allegations of corruption at the heart of world football's governing body after British banks Barclays, HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank were named in US charges as among the banks used to transfer cash as part of the conspiracy.

Barclays Bank is believed to have launched an internal review into the claims, while Standard Chartered Bank said it is "looking in to the payments". Both Barclays and HSBC have declined to comment.

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