Indictment against FIFA Officials

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 10:28 am on 28th May 2015.

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Photo of John Whittingdale John Whittingdale The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport 10:28 am, 28th May 2015

I thank the hon. Gentleman very much for his kind words. I am not sure that he will have endeared himself to the Father of the House, who was my distinguished predecessor as Chairman of the Select Committee, but I am grateful to him for his remarks.

I cannot promise that we will always be in complete agreement when we debate matters on the Floor of the House. However, on this occasion I share a lot of the concerns that the hon. Gentleman expressed. In particular, I agree with him that a change in leadership of FIFA is very badly needed. I want to pay tribute to the FA, particularly David Bernstein, Greg Dyke’s predecessor, who first called for that change and indeed supported alternative candidates. As I mentioned earlier, all four home nations are supporting the candidacy of Prince Ali.

The investigation in this country is a matter for the Serious Fraud Office, as I have said, but I have no doubt that it heard the calls made in the last Parliament for an investigation and that it will look closely to see whether any laws have been broken in this country. I share the hon. Gentleman’s concern about the £15 million put up for the England bid for 2018. It is too soon to say that the competition should be rerun, but we will wait to see what the outcomes of the criminal investigations are and whether there has been serious malpractice. A lot of very serious allegations have been made, and we now need a proper investigation into them.

On the specific points that the hon. Gentleman made about Qatar, I welcome the fact that the Qatari Government have now brought in a workers charter. I hope that it will lead to an improvement in the condition of migrant workers, but we are obviously concerned about the reports of exploitation. I was also very concerned about the detainment of the BBC journalists, which appeared to be an infringement of freedom of the press. As I said, this is an area where the freedom of the press has played a vital part in exposing wrongdoing within FIFA, which just reinforces why the principle of the freedom of the press matters so much.

I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman that these very serious matters need to be investigated quickly, and we will give every support we can to the US and Swiss authorities in doing so.