Sunday 18 March 2018

Blatter set to defy his critics and remain at FIFA helm

Robin Scott-Elliot in Zurich

DESPITE intense pressure which continued into the small hours of last night, with international politicians queuing up to demand change, Sepp Blatter remains set to be elected for a fourth term as president of world football's beleaguered governing body FIFA this afternoon.

The only opposition from within the "FIFA family", as Mr Blatter is fond of labelling the organisation, came from the English and Scottish Football Associations who called for the election to be postponed. David Bernstein, the chairman of the FA, called it "a point of principle". A number of other nations were considering their positions overnight, but it will have no impact when the 208 members assemble for the start of the business end of the congress today. Mr Blatter, who is set to be elected by acclaim this afternoon -- a move that will do little to improve FIFA's battered image -- may be under increasing attack from outside his family but that appears to have little impact.

Yesterday politicians from the UK, Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland and Australia queued up to call either for a delay or for him to stand aside. Micheline Calmy-Rey, the president of the Swiss Confederation, the country that hosts FIFA's HQ here in Zurich said: "It's in the interest of Switzerland to have a FIFA that operates with a minimum standard of conduct." There is increasing unease among some sectors of the Swiss government over FIFA's stance. There is the threat of world football's governing body having to pay more tax unless it shows the Swiss that it is prepared to instigate reform in certain areas. One Swiss MP told an English newspaper last week that if the government is not satisfied with FIFA's actions its exemption from some form of tax could be removed -- that could see FIFA a facing an annual bill 50 times larger than the current one of around only 50 million Swiss francs (€40.7m).


Even Jack Warner, the man suspended for allegedly attempting to offer bribes to Mr Blatter's then-opponent Mohamed bin Hammam, came out in support of the 75-year-old -- a declaration that breached the terms of his suspension.

Mr Warner advised the 35 members of CONCACAF, the Caribbean and North American confederation of which he was president until his suspension on Sunday, to vote for Mr Blatter rather than abstain or mount a protest.

Transparency International, a global anti-corruption pressure group, issued its own call for the election to be postponed.

Pressure was also being exerted on Mr Blatter yesterday from major sponsors, including the Emirates airline, Coca Cola and Adidas. (© Independent News Service).

Irish Independent

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