David Bernstein, who was FA chairman between 2011 and 2013, is the latest senior figure to call for united and dramatic European action following the controversy surrounding FIFA’s report into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
In an interview with the BBC, Bernstein also criticised FIFA for being a “totalitarian” set-up and said choosing Qatar as 2022 hosts was “one of the most ludicrous decisions in the history of sport…an Alice in Wonderland sort of decision”
Speaking after the findings of last week’s report were questioned even by the man who conducted the investigation, Michael Garcia, Bernstein said football’s credibility was “suffering enormously” under FIFA.
He added: “England on its own cannot influence this … I think England within UEFA undoubtedly have the power to influence FIFA, but to do so they would have to consider withdrawing from the World Cup, the next World Cup, unless proper reform — including Mr Blatter (President Sepp Blatter) not standing [for a fifth term] — is carried out at FIFA.
“If I was at the FA now, I would do everything I could to encourage other nations within UEFA — and there are some who would definitely be on side, others may be not — to take this line.”
Asked directly if he was calling for the FA to unite with UEFA to boycott FIFA and the World Cup, Bernstein replied: “Unless it (FIFA) could achieve the reforms that would bring FIFA back into the respectable world community, yes I would.
“It sounds drastic, but, frankly, this has gone on for years now, it’s not improving, it’s going from bad to worse to worse.
“There are 54 countries within UEFA. There’s Germany, Spain, Italy, France and Holland — all powerful. You can’t hold a serious World Cup without them. They have the power to influence if they have the will.”
Bernstein’s comments followed those of German Football League president Reinhard Rauball, who warned that UEFA could leave FIFA if Garcia’s complete report is not made public.
(Reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Ed Osmond)