The day the football world put the boot into England

As Blatter wins another term as Fifa president his backers attack the FA for daring to be critical

The Football Association was on the receiving end of a succession of brutal and very public attacks as its attempt to postpone Fifa's presidential election in Zurich yesterday incurred the wrath of Sepp Blatter's football family. It leaves the FA isolated on the international stage.

Blatter was duly elected for a fourth term in charge of the world governing body yesterday. The 75-year-old Swiss acknowledged that he had been "personally slapped" by the events of the last few weeks, during which Fifa has faced an escalating crisis, but it is the FA chairman, David Bernstein and England who were on the receiving end yesterday. Alex Horne, chief executive of the FA, said afterwards they had been surprised by the level of opprobrium aimed at them.

It culminated in an extraordinary attack by Julio Grondona, a Fifa veteran, who veered off script to accuse England of "telling lies"; earlier in the day the Argentine had described England as "pirates." Representatives from Haiti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cyprus and Fiji followed Bernstein on to the stage in the Hallenstadion and lambasted the English stance.

Later Angel Maria Villar Llona, the influential Spanish member of Fifa's executive committee (ExCo), added his voice, also swerving away from the subject he was supposed to be addressing to accuse England of sour grapes over the failed 2018 World Cup bid.

Horne said: "I was surprised [by the attacks], although not as it went on, because once a couple of people had got up and said what they had to say the [rest] followed them up and just poured more vitriol on it. I was surprised at how far Grondona and Llona went in terms of just rambling about politicians and journalists telling lies. That seemed a bit over the top."

The FA was voted down by 172 votes to 17 and, although that is more support than many had predicted it pushes England – and their backers, Scotland – to the fringes of the international game. Neither Wales nor Northern Ireland backed them. The FA is as yet unaware which other countries voted with it.

It may also give more ammunition to those within Fifa who want to see the home nations' guaranteed ExCo seat withdrawn. Grondona tellingly raised the matter in his speech. Yesterday Jim Boyce of Northern Ireland took over from England's Geoff Thompson.

Bernstein insisted the FA had done the right thing. Yesterday the Scandinavian associations pushed for an independent panel to investigate the slew of corruption allegations, without attempting to delay the election, while the German FA has preferred to work towards reform from within. Bernstein said: "We are confident the FA has played a significant role as a catalyst for change."

Bernstein spoke with Uefa members early yesterday morning before the congress. His proposal received no support and some members made it clear they did not want the FA to go ahead with its plan.

During his Congress speech Bernstein said: "I have been advised that it is better not to speak but I have decided to ignore that advice. We are subject to universal criticism from governments, sponsors, media and the wider public. With this background the election has turned into a one-horse race. A coronation without an opponent provides a flawed mandate."

It was received with applause from no more than a handful of delegates. Those that spoke after him were given noticeably warmer receptions as England were emphatically sidelined.

Selemani Omari, the president of the FA of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said: "Fifa belongs to 208 associations, not one or another. We're ill at ease with people who wield unfounded accusations. He who accuses must provide evidence. We have no lessons to take."

Next Benin's Moucharafou Anjorin said: "I'm ill at ease that this comes from a country like England with its football standing. Some people in Africa take great pleasure from watching English football on the television. This is why I do not understand why we want to create more tensions within Fifa. England should not be conveying this message. England should not divide us."

Then the Cypriot delegate Costakis Koutsokoumis took to the lectern. He said cuttingly: "Yes we are facing allegations. Allegations, what a beautiful English word that is. Someone stands up, says a few things in the press and then these things take their own body and mind, they are expanded, take a seed in our minds without most of the time a single shred of truth."

Grondona was later supposed to be speaking about Fifa's finances, but grasped the opportunity to deliver the most withering attack. "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," said Grondona. "I see it at every Congress. They have specific privileges, with four countries having one vice-president. 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?"

It was his second outburst against England. Earlier, in an interview with a German press agency, Grondona called England "pirates" and added: "Yes, I voted for Qatar, because a vote for the US would be like a vote for England. And that is not possible. But with the English 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."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food