Gill set to lead ‘awkward squad’ exposing wrongdoing at FIFA
LONDON (AP) — Manchester United director David Gill is set to be elected a FIFA vice president this week on a mission to be part of an “awkward squad” trying to expose any wrongdoing at the scandal-tainted governing body.
Gill was initially reluctant to contest the FIFA role reserved for the British associations due to his dislike of Sepp Blatter but he was convinced to stand by the English Football Association and UEFA President Michel Platini.
With the 79-year-old Blatter tipped to be re-elected as president for a fifth, four-year term in May, the English FA nominated Gill so he could ask tough questions of FIFA’s management from within the organization.
“David will be the sort of person who will do the job as a FIFA executive committee member properly,” English FA chairman Greg Dyke said. “He will not be afraid of asking appropriate questions. In fact perhaps FIFA needs to have someone from the awkward squad asking tough questions.
“He has a strong background in finance so if there are financial questions he will know what to ask and what to look for. There is a feeling that there have been too many acolytes and not enough people asking difficult questions and ensuring that decisions are taken in a transparent, ethical and business-like manner.”
Britain has a guaranteed FIFA vice presidency, but for the first time it will be chosen by all UEFA members and not by the four home nations alone. Gill is expected to easily beat rival candidate Trefor Lloyd Hughes, the Wales FA head, in the vote at the UEFA Congress on Tuesday. The winner replaces the vocal Jim Boyce of Northern Ireland on FIFA’s ruling executive committee in May.
Gill, a former accountant, had key roles at Manchester United during an unprecedented period of success under Alex Ferguson, rising to chief executive before stepping down in 2013 when the manager retired. Gill, an FA vice chairman, and Ferguson remain at United as directors without day-to-day influence on the team managed by Louis van Gaal.
Since being elected to UEFA’s executive committee in 2013, Gill has maintained a low public profile but made an impact last year by calling on Blatter to stand aside. Platini was reluctant to challenge Blatter for the top job in world football but urged Gill to bid to join him on FIFA’s executive committee.
“I aim to use my skills in football around the table and work with my UEFA colleagues to have a greater say and influence in how it operates. In terms of votes it’s quite an important block,” Gill said. “In areas like transparency and decision-making, it’s not going to happen overnight and it’s arguable whether it will happen unless there is a president change.
“My personal view is that it needs a change at the top to ensure that the required changes take place. I’m not naive enough to think I can change things overnight.”
Gill would be joining the FIFA executive committee after the May 29 presidential election. FIFA Vice President Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, Dutch football chief Michael van Praag and Portugal great Luis Figo are challenging Blatter in the secret ballot of FIFA’s 209 member associations.
Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris