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Uefa teams 'may pull out of 2018 World Cup'

By Chris Green

European national sides - including Northern Ireland - may pull out of the 2018 World Cup in Russia if Sepp Blatter is re-elected as the president of Fifa today, the head of Uefa warned, after the sport's most powerful man refused to resign despite the burgeoning corruption scandal.

As sponsors distanced themselves from football's governing body, saying they had "profound" concerns about the gravity of the allegations it faced, Michel Platini said Uefa's 54 member countries had not ruled out a boycott of future Fifa tournaments.

"Uefa associations will meet in Berlin next week. We will be open to all options," he said, adding that "there may be proposals" for members to withdraw from Fifa competitions until Mr Blatter stands down. Mr Platini's words raise the prospect of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland pulling out of the tournament.

Mr Blatter refused to step down despite the arrests of nine senior Fifa officials, who have been charged with accepting bribes and kickbacks totalling hundreds of millions of dollars. The allegations have plunged football's governing body into the biggest crisis in its history.

In a defiant speech, Mr Blatter said the charges had cast "a long shadow over football" and hinted that "more bad news will follow". But he insisted he was the right man to change the organisation from "top to bottom".

Belfast Telegraph


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