Tuesday 17 October 2017

It’s official: Blatter holds on to top FIFA job

Sepp Blatter is the only candidate in the FIFA presidential election. Photo: Getty Images
Sepp Blatter is the only candidate in the FIFA presidential election. Photo: Getty Images

Sepp Blatter has – as expected – been re-elected president of FIFA, after days of turmoil that rocked the world football governing body.

Blatter was the lone candidate after bitter opponent Mohamed Bin Hammam stood aside following corruption allegations.

Earlier the English FA's made a bid to postpone the election ended in a heavy defeat. FA chairman David Bernstein called on the 208 FIFA member associations to stop Sepp Blatter being re-elected unopposed.

However the FIFA members then voted by 172 votes to 17 not to postpone the election.

In his speech Bernstein said: "It gives me no pleasure to make this speech. A lot of people have warned me I shouldn't be making this speech but FIFA is a democratic organisation.

"We are faced with an unsatisfactory situation. We are subject to universal criticism from governments, sponsors, media and the wider world.

"With this background the election has turned into one-horse race.

"In the view of the Football Association this should be avoided both for the sake of FIFA and the president itself. A coronation without an opponent provides a flawed mandate.

"I ask for a postponement to allow time for an additional candidate or candidates to stand and compete in an open and fair election.

"Only by so doing will the winner have proper credibility over the next four years."

Bernstein had minimal applause as he left the podium and the FA's call was then subject to criticism from a series of following speakers.

Blatter then announced a major change to how World Cup hosts will be chosen.

In the future, the tournament's hosts will be chosen by a vote of all the 208 member associations rather than the 24-man executive committee.

Blatter said: "I want to give more power to the national associations.

"In the future the World Cup will be decided by the FIFA Congress. The executive committee will create a shortlist - but will make no recommendations only a list - and the Congress will decide on the venue."

After the failure of the FA's attempt to have the election postponed, Blatter said he would learn from the "public anger" and would lead FIFA out of their current predicament.

He said: "We have been hit and I personally have been slapped. We have made mistakes and we will learn from this. I can say to a certain extent that this is a good warning, not just to look into our problems and I am willing to face the public anger in order to serve football.

"I am the captain weathering the storm, this is a difficult period for FIFA and I admit that readily. Not only is the pyramid shaking but our ship has drawn some water.

"We must do something because I do not want ever again that we face this undignified situation."

Selemani Omari, president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's football federation, made reference to ex-FA chairman Lord Triesman's claims in Parliament of impropriety by four FIFA members during England's failed 2018 World Cup bid.

A report into the claims has failed to provide corroborating evidence, and Selemani said: "We are ill at ease with people who wield unfounded accusations - he who accuses must provide evidence.

"FIFA belongs to 208 national associations and not to one association, we must not seek solutions through the media or a Parliament in any third country."

Blatter said the chairman of the ethics committee - the watchdog group set up in 2006 to deal with claims of malpractice in FIFA - would in future also be elected by the Congress.

He also suggested that a committee would be set up to examine FIFA's corporate governance and recommend changes.

FIFA's senior vice-president Julio Grondona then launched a stinging attack saying England is "always complaining".

The Argentinian, head of FIFA's finance committee, said: "We always have attacks from England which are mostly lies with the support of journalism which is more busy lying than telling the truth. This upsets and disturbs the FIFA family.

"To present such a project as David Bernstein presented is like shooting a penalty because it cannot be always from the same place that the insults and problems come from.

"I see it at every Congress. They have specific privileges with four countries having one vice-president. I don't know what our president has said.

"But we have seen the World Cup go around the world, to South America and Africa and it looks like this country does not like it.

"It looks like England is always complaining so please I say will you leave the FIFA family alone, and when you speak, speak with truth."

In an interview with a German press agency yesterday, Grondona called England "pirates" and added: "Yes, I voted for Qatar, because a vote for the US would be like a vote for England. And that is not possible.

"But with the English bid I said: Let us be brief. If you give back the Falkland Islands, which belong to us, you will get my vote. They then became sad and left."

Press Association

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