Sunday 17 December 2017

England attacked after Blatter wins FIFA vote

FIFA President Sepp Blatter reacts after being re-elected for a fourth term. Photo: Reuters
FIFA President Sepp Blatter reacts after being re-elected for a fourth term. Photo: Reuters

Sepp Blatter has been re-elected as president of Fifa after attempts to block the vote ended in heavy defeat and vengeful recriminations.

Mr Blatter (75) will serve for another four years until 2015, when he has previously promised he will step down.

England's Football Association now looks isolated in world football after their attempt to stop the election was defeated by 172 votes to 17, with a further 17 abstentions.

Ireland, Wales and Northern Ireland voted against England, while the fallout saw several powerful figures in football line up to attack the FA.

A secret ballot resulted in Mr Blatter being the only candidate for the presidency following Mohamed Bin Hammam's withdrawal on Sunday, hours before he was provisionally banned on bribery charges, re-elected with 186 votes and 17 abstentions.

Mr Blatter, who had earlier announced a new system of choosing World Cup hosts with all 208 Fifa nations voting instead of the 24-man committee, told the congress: "I thank you for your trust and confidence from the bottom of my heart and together we will have four more years -- provided the Lord gives me the life, the energy and the strength to continue on our path.

"I'm happy today we were once again able to bring solidarity and unity into Fifa."

In a reference to proposed reforms to clean up world football, he added: "We shall move forward, we will put Fifa's ship back on the right course in clear, transparent waters. We need some time, we cannot do it overnight, but we will do it.''

Mr Blatter also announced an extraordinary congress would be held to examine proposals for other reforms, and that an independent chairman of the ethics committee -- the watchdog group set up in 2006 to deal with claims of malpractice -- would be elected by the congress.

FA chairman David Bernstein said his organisation's move had been worthwhile. He said: "After hearing the speech from Sepp Blatter, we believe the calls we have made for greater transparency and better governance have been worthwhile.

"It was positive to be joined by 16 other nations, while a further 17 nations abstaining clearly shows that we are not alone or isolated in our views.''

After losing the vote, the FA were the subject of a vitriolic attack by Fifa's senior vice-president Julio Grondona from Argentina.

Lying

He told the congress: "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.

"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.''

Mr Grondona called England "pirates'' and added: "With the English World Cup 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.''

The leaders of associations from Haiti, DR Congo, Benin, Fiji and Cyprus all spoke to criticise the FA's move.

Irish Independent

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