(WFI) Sepp Blatter is re-elected as head of world football’s governing body, winning 186 of the 203 votes cast at the FIFA Congress in Zurich.
Blatter, first elected in 1998, was unopposed in the election and will serve a final four-year term. He has promised to step down in 2015.
The 75-year-old Swiss received a standing ovation from the 208 member football federations present at the congress.
Of the 203 votes, Blatter needed 50% plus one (102). With 186 votes, it means a total of 17 federations abstained.
“I thank you for your trust and confidence from the bottom of my heart,” Blatter said in his acceptance speech.
“Together we will have four years provided the Lord gives me life and energy.”
“Our pyramid is intact, the foundation is strong and together we have four years to continue on our path and do our job. We will put FIFA’s ship back on the right course in clear, transparent waters.
“We need some time to do it, but we shall do it.
He added: “Today something marvellous happened. I’m deeply moved and honoured. It’s a challenge, a new one for me, and I accept it.”
Earlier today, Blatter survived an English FA proposal to congress to postpone the presidential election in the wake of the corruption scandals engulfing his organisation.
He was the sole candidate following the withdrawal on Sunday of Qatari Mohamed Bin Hammam following allegations he had paid cash bungs to amid allegations that he bribed Caribbean Football Union members.
In his presidential address to congress this morning, Blatter restated his commitment to root out corruption in FIFA from within.
“We have been hit and I personally have been slapped,” he told delegates. “We have made mistakes but we will draw conclusions with the lessons learnt. I am the captain weathering the storm
“Reforms will be made and not just touch-ups but radical decisions.
“We must do something because I don’t want ever again the institution of FIFA to face a situation which I must say is undignified.”
Blatter asks: Where does all this evil come from?
Commenting on calls for transparency and better governance of FIFA, he spoke about zero tolerance and implementing a revamp of the ethics committee, which he proposes to split into two bodies, one for prosecuting, one for judgement.
“Where does all this evil come from that is now in FIFA,” he asked delegates. “It has to do with the popularity of the World Cup.”
Blatter went on to reference the allegations of bribery that tarnished the World Cup bidding process and FIFA in the build-up and since the controversial Dec. 2 vote. Russia won 2018 hosting rights, with Qatar getting the 2022 tournament.
He noted the “wave of accusations, allegations and criticisms… and they are still coming.
“It is out duty to react.”
Blatter then announced his plan to elect future World Cup host countries by a vote of all the 208 member associations rather than simply the 24-man executive committee.
The proposal formed part of his election manifesto released last month. Eight Ex-Co members have been accused of bribery related to the World Cup bidding process. Two have been banned.
“The intention is to give more power to the national associations,” he said.
“In the future, the organisation of 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.”
Under his sometimes bizarre attempts to show his determination to combat corruption, Blatter asked delegates to make sure they were familiar with FIFA’s Code of Ethics. Violations of the code have led to bans for four Ex-Co members since last October, including provisional suspensions of Jack Warner and Mohamed Bin Hammam this week.
FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke claimed in an email to Warner that Qatar “bought” the World Cup, comments that he later retracted. Qatar 2022 issued a statement denying the allegation.
“We must stop all these ugly allegations and insinuations of cheating left, right and centre. Our credibility and the reputation of all of us is at stake,” Blatter said.
German FA chief voices “suspicions” about Qatar
But controversy over the flawed World Cup bidding process shows no sign of abating.
Earlier on Wednesday, German FA president Theo Zwanziger issued fresh calls for FIFA to reconsider the awarding of 2022 World Cup to Qatar.
“I think there is a significant degree of suspicion that one cannot just dismiss,” he told German TV station ZDF in comments carried by AFP.
“And that is why I reckon that the awarding of this World Cup must be re-examined with regard to these concerns. I do not want to comment on how that might happen until I know more about the matter.”
A Qatar 2022 source told INSIDER that World Cup organisers were enraged by Zwanziger’s remarks. The organising committee is declining comment at the moment.
In his bid to repair FIFA’s tattered image, Blatter is also proposing to hold an extraordinary congress to discuss how to improve the organisation’s corporate governance and even to examine ways of combating the corruption that has been eating away at the heart of the body.
Among a handful of speakers to praise Blatter was Spanish football federation president Angel Maria Villa Llona.
He said he believed the FIFA family would solve its problems and Blatter was the man to lead the way. “He is a great president I respect him,” he said.
Danish FA president Allan Hansen, speaking on behalf of several Scandinavian countries, said he was backing Blatter’s plans to tackle corruption and implement reforms.
But he demande a “strong independent inquiry” into the bribery and corruption allegations involving Warner and Bin Hammam “to ensure we will have zero tolerance”.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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