Blatter: 'It's my duty to guide Fifa ship'

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The Independent Football

Sepp Blatter has compared Fifa to a ship in "troubled waters" and declared himself the "captain" who will guide it back on to the "right route".

Speaking in Zurich ahead of the presidential election - in which he is standing unopposed - Mr Blatter said: "We are all together in unity and solidarity.

"We all know that the Fifa ship is in moving waters, I could even say troubled waters.

"But I think this ship must be brought back on the right route and I am the captain of this ship.

"It's therefore my duty and responsibility to see to it that we get back on the right route.

"But I can only do it with your help because Fifa is you."

Mr Blatter is expected to win a fourth term despite calls from the English and Scottish FA to postpone the vote.

Prince William, the FA president, has backed the stance that a fair election cannot take place following allegations of corruption within football's world governing body.

The FA and Scottish FA have accused the world governing body of a "lack of transparency and accountability".

FA chairman David Bernstein wants Fifa to appoint an independent body to supervise reforms after scandals over the last month have caused a crisis in the embattled organisation.

Scottish FA chief executive Stewart Regan also confirmed its position that the presidential election should be postponed, saying recent events had made it "unworkable".

A Clarence House spokesman said last night: "The Duke of Cambridge, as president, has been kept informed of the FA's proposals and is fully supportive of the chairman and the initiatives the FA has recommended.

"He considers the transparency of the international governing body to be integral to the good governance of the game."

Asian football chief Mohamed Bin Hammam pulled out of the race against Mr Blatter at the weekend, hours before he was provisionally banned from all football-related activities on bribery charges.

Executive committee member Jack Warner has also been suspended from all football-related activity after the Fifa ethics committee said it would launch a "full inquiry" into the bribery allegations.

The developments followed controversy surrounding the legitimacy of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process.

The USA's Fifa member, Chuck Blazer, whose bribery claims prompted the provisional suspension of Mr Warner and Mr Bin Hammam, said the FA's attempt to have the election called off had missed the boat in terms of influencing the organisation.

He said: "Unfortunately, with them, everything is too little too late.

"If they wanted other candidates they should have done things before the deadline.

"If they wanted to report malfeasance they shouldn't have waited for a parliamentary hearing.

"The FA needs to learn to be ahead of the curve and not behind the game."

Mr Bernstein admitted the attempt is almost certain to fail but insisted a "coronation" of Mr Blatter is unacceptable.

He said: "Going forward in this situation if he does with a coronation rather than an election I don't think does anybody any good - including Mr Blatter."

Meanwhile, it has emerged that an attempt was made to remove Mr Blazer from his position of Concacaf secretary-general.

Concacaf acting president Lisle Austin sent the American a letter saying that his contract was being terminated.

However, the confederation later confirmed that the dismissal decision was taken without any authority and that Mr Blazer remained in his position.

Major sponsors Emirates and Visa yesterday voiced their disappointment over the situation at Fifa, joining Coca-Cola and Adidas, which have also expressed concerns.

Fifa members voted by 172 votes to 17 not to postpone the election.

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

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

Mr 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."

He continued: "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."