It is high time that the "murky side" of football is cleaned up, said Chancellor Angela Merkel at a press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron at the Federal Chancellery. This is in the interests of all football fans – "and there are billions of them around the world."
National associations must help with investigations.
Earlier in the day federal government spokesperson Steffen Seibert called on national associations to give the investigating authorities their full and unconditional support. "Corruption is an evil wherever it occurs within sport and society, especially where sport meets business," he said in Berlin.
"In this situation there can only be one way forward – and that is a full and complete investigation of the accusations. Then, if necessary, appropriate legal action must be taken." It is in the interests of the national associations and of football as a sport for the associations to support the investigating authorities in every way.
"Fair play" should not be confined to the football pitch
On Thursday, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier stressed that "fair play" is the most important rule in sport and a value that goes far beyond the world of sport. If football aims to be an example, the matter must be resolved. "Corruption poisons politics and it poisons sport. If football cannot clean up its own act, then state agencies must take over."
Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière too called for a swift investigation of the accusations. "The credibility of FIFA has taken a serious knock. Things cannot go on like this," he said. But FIFA must be prepared to assist with the investigations.
Fair play is essential to sport, as is the enthusiasm of fans, continued the minister. But "fair play" means more than paying lip service to the ideal. "We need to ensure that the awarding of major sporting events like the FIFA World Cup is entirely level and above board. Corruption kills sport. The German Football Association (DFB), and UEFA have today spoken out clearly and critically. Now it is up to everybody to do their bit to ensure that football does not sustain any permanent damage."
Greater transparency needed
Federal Minister of Justice Heiko Maas said FIFA must accept the criticism that it has not made any real attempt for years to investigate corruption in its ranks. "It is also in FIFA’s own interests to ensure that these accusations are now properly investigated at last," said Heiko Maas. To this end there will have to be a great deal more transparency than there has been to date. "All football fans have the right to find out exactly what really happened, in particular with the bidding process for World Cups."
In an interview with the German newspaper "Bild" on Friday, Heiko Maas reaffirmed his call for a new start at FIFA. "Reports of corruption have been circulating for a long time, and nothing has ever really been investigated properly by Blatter and co."