Blatter re-elected as FIFA president
World football’s governing body FIFA has re-elected Sepp Blatter as its president after a week of controversies and graft accusations. Blatter was the only candidate standing when the votes were cast.
Sepp Blatter’s re-election in Zurich as head of FIFA on Wednesday was a formality. He was the only candidate and there would only ever be one outcome.
Blatter returned to power for a further four years with 186 votes out of 203, despite an English motion to halt the ballot, which was overwhelmingly dismissed by 172 votes to 17.
The motion to stop the vote came after a week of intense controversy for football’s world governing body, in which Blatter’s main opponent for the job pulled out amid accusations of bribery.
Qatari candidate Mohamed bin Hammam withdrew from the race on Sunday.
Immediately after his announcement, FIFA’s ethics committee suspended him from his position at the head of the Asian football confederation.
Bin Hammam is under investigation for allegedly buying votes for what would have been his candidature in Wednesday’s vote.
He is not the only senior member of FIFA accused of bribery.
Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) President Jack Warner was also barred by the FIFA ethics committee from all FIFA business on Sunday, after allegations Caribbean football leaders were paid 40,000 dollars each to back bin Hammam’s now-defunct presidential bid.
In the wake of the accusations, an embittered Warner released a private email he had been sent by FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke, which appeared to imply that Qatar had “bought” the right to host the 2022 World Cup.
Sepp Blatter, however, seems to have weathered the storm of controversy.
“The FIFA ship is in troubled waters - but this ship must be brought back on the right track,” Blatter said in his opening address on Wednesday, adding that he was “captain of that ship.”
“It is therefore my duty and responsibility to see to it that we get back on track,” he said.
But whether 75-year-old Blatter, who has been a part of the FIFA landscape since 1975, can restore confidence in the world’s richest sporting association remains to be seen.
The son of a bicycle repairman from Visp in southern Switzerland, Blatter succeeded Brazilian Joao Havelange as FIFA president in 1998.
Before joining FIFA he had helped organise the 1972 Munich Olympics, and has also been a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1999.
For now, the man who dreamed of getting the Nobel Peace Prize for his work promoting sport has an uphill battle ahead of him if he is to achieve any kind of tranquility and confidence in World football.
“For now he looks very much like a has-been who utterly lacks transparency,” former editor of French sports newspaper l’Equipe Claude Droussent told FRANCE 24.
“But he is an intelligent and determined man who is well placed to kickstart important reforms, such as how host countries for the World Cup are chosen.”