Soccer

FIFA VP Grondona hits out at England

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ZURICH (AP)

FIFA's senior vice president criticized England's football leaders and media in a remarkable speech to the governing body's 208 members on Wednesday.

Julio Grondona described England, which founded international football, as ''where the insults and the problems come from.''

''We always have attacks from England which are mostly lies with the support of journalism which is busy lying rather than telling the truth,'' Grondona said.

A second FIFA vice president picked up the anti-media theme later in the congress, which gathered after days of negative headlines for the organization and its president Sepp Blatter amid a bribery scandal and sniping between former longtime colleagues.

''We must stop these people hitting us,'' Spanish official Angel Maria Villar said of the media. ''They insult us. It's cheap, it costs them nothing.''

Grondona, a 79-year-old Argentinean, spoke after England failed in a proposal to postpone Blatter's re-election on Wednesday to allow time for investigations into alleged corruption involving senior FIFA officials.

Grondona's South American colleagues on FIFA's executive committee, Nicolas Leoz and Ricardo Teixeira, have repeatedly been accused of unethical behavior by English officials and media.

''It looks like England always has something to complain about,'' said Grondona, who joined FIFA's ruling panel 23 years ago.

Among the claims, the BBC has alleged that Teixeira of Brazil and Leoz of Paraguay took kickbacks from FIFA's former marketing partner in the 1990s.

Officials from England's failed 2018 World Cup bid claimed that aides for Leoz asked that he receive a knighthood and have the FA Cup named after him in exchange for his support.

England's bid was humiliated last December, eliminated in the first round of a four-bid contest with just two votes from FIFA's 22-man board.

Russia won the election conducted minutes after Blatter reminded his fellow voters about ''the evils'' of British media coverage of the campaign.

On Wednesday, England's motion to delay the presidential election by several months was defeated by 172 votes to 17. A further 17 countries abstained.

Grondona said England has never got over losing the presidency of FIFA in 1974, when Stanley Rous was defeated by Blatter's mentor, Joao Havelange of Brazil.

''It looks like this country didn't like it and goes on not liking it, and it doesn't show good will,'' Grondona said. ''Will you please leave the FIFA family alone. Say what you have to say but with truth. Say it clearly and without upsetting our family.''

Grondona's speech, before his scheduled introduction to FIFA's financial report, was warmly applauded.

He is embroiled in his own problems at home. Former national team coach Diego Maradona said 10 days ago that Grondona did away with drug testing during a World Cup playoff in 1993 with Australia - which Argentina won - and that Argentine players were provided with ''speedy coffee'' to help improve performance.

Grondona has acknowledged there were no drug test, saying they were not required at the time. He has not responded to Maradona's charges about players being supplied stimulants.

FIFA met on the day England's best-selling daily newspaper, The Sun, published pictures of Blatter and Libya's Moamar Gadhafi under the headline ''Despot The Difference.''

Blatter and Gadhafi were ''two deluded dictators clinging to power,'' the newspaper said, ''as their corrupt regimes crumbled around them.''

Last year, British media alleged Villar broke FIFA rules while leading Spain's failed joint bid with Portugal to host the 2018 World Cup.

FIFA's ethics committee found no evidence to prove that the Iberian bid colluded with 2022 candidate Qatar to share support. Blatter later said they probably did collude.

Villar, who chairs FIFA's legal committee, took a final shot at the media in a speech supporting Blatter's plan for a ''Zero Tolerance'' anti-corruption project.

''I know I'm talking to intelligent people and not to journalists who don't know and don't want to know,'' he said.



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