Football 'family' set to elect Blatter president again

Click to follow
The Independent Football

The politicking continued into the small hours of last night, with politicians queuing up to demand change, but Sepp Blatter remains set to be elected for a fourth term as president of world football's 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.

But the FA did win the backing of its president, Prince William, who issued a statement of support last night. Clarence House said: "He considers the transparency of the international governing body to be integral to the good governance of the game."

Politicians from the UK, Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland and Australia called either for a delay or for Mr Blatter to stand aside. Micheline Calmy-Rey, the president of the Swiss Confederation, urged immediate reform and urged Fifa: "Take seriously the many criticisms voiced about corruption and a lack of transparency. Your organisation should be an example not only to young people but to the world at large. Let not money spoil your ideals."

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. One Swiss MP told The Independent last week that Fifa's exemption from some form of tax could be removed – which could see Fifa facing an annual bill 50 times larger than the current one of around only Sfr50m (£36m).

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 wrote to advise the 35 members of Concacaf, the Caribbean and North American confederation of which he was president, to vote for Mr Blatter, rather than abstain or mount a protest. He told them: "I, Jack Warner, a servant and believer in the principles of this beautiful game do humbly beseech you... to desist from initiating any protest action at Fifa congress. At our last meeting we agreed as a union to support the incumbent Sepp Blatter... I wish to assure you nothing has changed."

Transparency International, a global anti-corruption pressure group, issued its own call for the election to be postponed and an independent inquiry put in place to examine the corruption allegations that led to Mr Bin Hammam withdrawing from the election and then being suspended by Fifa's ethics committee.

The position of Chuck Blazer, Concacaf general secretary and the man who reported Mr Warner to Fifa, was in doubt last night amid attempts to sack him.

Comments