Wed, Jun 03, 2015 - Page 19 News List

NZ to grill Blatter over agenda, Oceania place

Reuters, WELLINGTON

Embattled FIFA president Sepp Blatter can expect a grilling if he shows up for the latter stages of the under-20 World Cup in New Zealand after the nation’s soccer officials said they were keen to hold clear-the-air discussions with him.

New Zealand Football (NZF) voted against the 79-year-old’s bid for a fifth successive term as FIFA president last week in Zurich, Switzerland, reversing their position after the world governing body became embroiled in another corruption scandal.

A total of 14 FIFA officials and corporate executives have been charged by the US Department of Justice with running a criminal enterprise that involved more than US$150 million in bribes.

NZF were also disappointed the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), the smallest in FIFA with 11 South Pacific nations, had not been given direct entry to the next two World Cup tournaments, with the Oceania qualifier still having to undergo a playoff to reach the finals.

NZF and the OFC had high expectations Blatter would support direct entry, but FIFA’s executive committee decided the current qualification spots would remain the same.

“We are very disappointed at the decision,” NZF chief executive Andy Martin said in a statement yesterday. “I know OFC president David Chung will have similar feelings after all the hard work he has done on behalf of the entire Oceania region toward making direct entry to the World Cup a reality. We now look forward to the opportunity to meet with president Blatter on his intended visit to New Zealand later this month to discuss his plans and understand how we can play a role in that process”

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