David Beckham has described FIFA’s failings as “despicable, unacceptable and awful” as the corruption at the top of world football was laid bare by the organisation’s former executive committee member Chuck Blazer.
The former England captain said he was left with a “sick feeling” after being misled by FIFA executive committee members who pledged their support for the Football Association’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup, which was eventually awarded to Russia in controversial circumstances.
Beckham said he has found it infuriating watching the FIFA scandal escalate over the last week, a crisis which on Tuesday brought to an end the 17-year reign of its president Sepp Blatter.
“Some of the things that we now know happened were despicable, unacceptable and awful for the game we love so much,” Beckham said in a statement.
“Whilst it has not been good to read some of the headlines surrounding our sport recently, I hope at last we are now moving in the right direction.
“Football is not owned by a few individuals at the top, it belongs to the millions of people around the world who love this sport.
“It is time for FIFA to change and we should all welcome it.”
Beckham’s comments came after the extent of the alleged corruption in FIFA - and most notably in the awarding of the 1998 and 2010 World Cups to France and South Africa - came to light through Blazer’s testimony published by the United States Department of Justice.
The whistleblower admitted he had taken bribes in relation to the awarding of the 1998 and 2010 World Cups.
It is not clear whether Morocco or France made the 1998 payment, although Morocco have been named in the indictment as being prepared to bribe for 2006.
Blazer said bribes and kickbacks were also commonplace in the CONCACAF tournaments run in North and Central America and the Caribbean.
The 70-year-old, now said to be seriously ill, revealed that he had accepted payments for the CONCACAF affiliated Gold Cups - equivalent to the European Championship or the African Nations Cup - for a decade.
Last week 14 people were indicted on charges of racketeering and money laundering. Four others had already been charged, including Blazer.
The US justice department alleges they accepted bribes and kickbacks estimated at more than 150million US dollars over a 24-year period.
The FIFA scandal has led to question marks being placed over the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in Russia and Qatar, with many commentators suggesting the bidding process for those tournaments should be held again.