Sepp Blatter remains a credible president of FIFA despite allegations of corruption at the governing body, according to Franz Beckenbauer.
Blatter is the only candidate in next week’s presidential election following rival Mohamed bin Hammam’s withdrawal from the race overnight.
Bin Hammam, the president of the Asian Football Confederation and Blatter, along with FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, will appear before the FIFA ethics committee later today. Bin Hammam and Warner face bribery allegations while Blatter is charged with knowing about alleged bribery.
But retiring executive committee member Beckenbauer told Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek programme: “He (Blatter) did a wonderful job. It’s not easy. FIFA is like the United Nations – we have 208 members. It’s not an easy to handle, but I think Blatter and his staff are doing a wonderful job.”
The German admitted, though, the allegations were very damaging for the game.
“It’s a disaster for football and I hope when June 1 comes and the election will be over, then all the discussion about corruption is finished and FIFA can go back to normal. I don’t know what’s going on in the next days, but in general it’s my opinion it’s very, very bad.”
Beckenbauer, who said he had never been offered a bribe, ruled out the possibility of standing for president.
“Certainly not. I’m leaving the UEFA exco, I’m leaving the FIFA exco – no way.”
Former International Olympic Committee vice-president Dick Pound helped clean up the organisation following the Salt Lake City scandal, when officials were allegedly bribed to give the 2002 Winter Olympics to the city.
And the former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency feels national associations could leave FIFA and set up their own governing body.
“It may be if FIFA is not going to do the game any good, the game may have to do something to FIFA,” he said.
“You could withdraw from FIFA, for example. You could say ’we’re not satisfied that the organisation is being properly run and it’s not a credit to the sport that we know and love and therefore let’s have an alternative to FIFA’.
“That’s one possibility – it has been done in other sports. They say ’we’re the effective governing body of football now and not FIFA’.”
Pound insists FIFA need to conduct a thorough investigation into the corruption claims if their reputation is to recover from the battering it has taken in recent weeks.
“There are so many allegations of corruption and foul play and so forth around the activities of FIFA itself and in some of its recent selections for its events,” he said.
“If there’s that much smoke there may be some fire and I should have thought that it’s not good for FIFA’s reputation nor for the reputation of anybody involved for these things to be flying around without somebody saying ’let’s take a look at them and see if there is a problem and if there is a problem what do we do about it?’.
“If the perceptions are that the organisation is rife with corruption then it’s up to the organisation either to demonstrate that it’s not or if it finds that it is to take whatever remedial measures are appropriate.
“Personally my experience was that people like the idea of being in a clean organisation but they don’t like the cleaners.”
Pound added: “When something like this happened to the IOC 10 or 12 years ago, we took it extremely seriously. In fact we thought the future of the institution itself was at risk unless we were to take a very firm stand against bad behaviour on the part of some of our members so we did that.
“I think the perception of the IOC today is quite different from what it was in 1998 or 1999.”