Carry on, Sepp: Blatter's victory is a fitting end to Fifa's week of farce

Robin Scott-Elliot sees football's governing body vote for four more years of the status quo
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The Independent Online

With an oversize bunch of lilies in one hand and a smiling child by his side, Sepp Blatter stepped back on to the stage at the 61st Fifa Congress in Zurich not long before 6pm Central European Time yesterday. The delegates stood to applaud their president, re-elected for a fourth term as head of what he likes to call the football family. All that was missing were chants of "Four more years".

So the most tumultuous week in Fifa's history came to an end with the man who led them into this crisis chosen to lead them out again. Although, to be fair to the 75-year-old denied there was any crisis – rather some "difficulties". Perhaps he was right all along. It seems, judging from the reaction of delegates yesterday, that in Fifaland there really is no crisis.

Of the 203 football associations, who voted, 186 put a cross in the only box on the ballot paper, alongside the name of Joseph S Blatter.

The family came together yesterday to ignore calls to open up for reform and they did it by turning on some favourite targets; England and the media. The scandal was, to sum up a succession of angry speakers, all their fault.

The Football Association received a terrible verbal battering, accused of being "pirates" by Julio Grondona, one of Fifa's stalwarts, while the media were also widely blamed for the troubles that have threatened to engulf the world governing body over the course of an extraordinary week. That ignores the simple fact that the current upheaval was caused by Chuck Blazer, a member of Fifa's executive committee, reporting two other committee members for allegedly attempting to bribe potential voters.

Blatter did offer some prospect of reform yesterday – he had to to satisfy the demands of the Swiss government, Fifa's hosts, and the concerns of their sponsors. Fifa may seem impervious for the need for them to change, but the Swiss are not.

Yesterday, protesters gathered outside the Hallenstadion to call for Fifa to pay proper taxes; that is the threat that hangs over them if they do not act on the Swiss government's requests.

Blatter acknowledged that it had not been all plain sailing. He said: "We have been hit and I personally have been slapped. I am willing to face the public anger in order to serve football. I am certain of weathering the storm.

"Our ship has drawn water, our ship is in difficult water, even troubled water, and this is the reason why we must put this ship back on its course and for this we need a leader; we need someone to accept this responsibility."

The day followed the week in being brushed with the surreal. He asked the congress if they wanted to have a woman on the executive committee. Then he introduced his solution. A "solutions committee" will be set up to investigate allegations of corruption. It will be made up of Fifa members, although they will be free to call on outside "experts". Last night Blatter suggested he had just such an outside expert in mind. Henry Kissinger, aged 88. Now there's a man for a crisis. If there was a crisis.

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