Fifa Re-Elects Sepp Blatter As President
Sepp Blatter has been re-elected president of Fifa, football’s world governing body, in a vote overshadowed by arrests and corruption allegations.
Mr Blatter’s rival, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, withdrew after the first round of voting.
Mr Blatter fell seven short of the two-thirds needed, but Prince Ali opted not to contest further.
Seven top officials were arrested in Switzerland on Wednesday as part of a US prosecution that indicted 14 people.
Mr Blatter, 79, has faced calls to resign, including from UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who said in Berlin on Thursday that the Fifa president should quit “the sooner the better”.
‘Nobody is perfect’
But Mr Blatter hailed his victory, thanking all those who voted from him and his rival, Prince Ali.
Mr Blatter said: “I am not perfect, nobody is perfect, but we will do a good job together I am sure.”
He also hinted that this term in office, his fifth, could be his last, saying: “At the end of my term I will give up Fifa in a strong position.”
Analysis: Matthew Kenyon, BBC Sport
If you read most of the world’s media, Sepp Blatter’s ability to hang on to power at Fifa is nothing short of miraculous.
After years of negative headlines, the frenzy has reached fever pitch in the wake of the US allegations of corruption – even though Mr Blatter himself has not been implicated. And running through all this is a theme – bemusement that much of the football world keeps voting for him.
Nowhere is Sepp Blatter’s support stronger than across Asia and Africa. So why do most of the representatives from those two continents appear to be voting for him again?
Here’s about as succinct an answer as you’re going to get – from the president of the Nigerian Football Federation: “Blatter feels Africa. What Blatter pushes is equity, fairness and equality among the nations.”
We’re talking about two things – the first is concrete investment, often literally so. The second is respect.
In conceding, Prince Ali said: “It’s been a wonderful journey… And I want to thank in particular those of you who were brave enough to support me.”
Global citizens’ movement Avaaz, which started the #BlatterOut campaign, quickly condemned the re-election.
Campaign director Alex Wilks said: “More dirty dealings in Fifa’s halls have crushed the hopes of billions of football fans.”
The vote took place at Fifa’s congress in Zurich. In the first round Mr Blatter won won 133 to Prince Ali’s 73, just short of the 140 votes needed for an outright win.
The two candidates had earlier delivered final appeals to the electors.
Prince Ali, 39, said questions had been raised in recent days “about whether our Fifa family is morally bankrupt”.
“There are no easy answers and no blame that can be cast that will wash away the stain that marks us all,” he said.
Mr Blatter declared: “I am being held accountable for the current storm – so be it, I will shoulder the responsibility. I will take it upon myself and I want to fix Fifa together with you.”
To applause from a large number of delegates, he said: “I would like to stay with you. I would like to continue with you.”
The vote comes two days after seven top officials were held in Zurich in a US fraud inquiry that indicted 14 people.
They are accused of bribery, racketeering and money-laundering involving tens of millions of dollars since 1991.
The aim of the bribes was to influence the outcome of bids to stage football tournaments such as the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the 2016 Copa America in the US, prosecutors say.
Swiss prosecutors have launched a separate investigation into the bidding process for the World Cup tournaments in 2018 in Russia and 2022 in Qatar.
Many of Fifa’s major sponsors, including Coca-Cola, Visa, Adidas, McDonald’s, Hyundai Motor and Budweiser, have expressed concern over the investigations.
After Mr Blatter was re-elected, Coca-Cola said in a statement that Fifa “must now seize the opportunity to begin winning back the trust it has lost”.
‘Movement for change’
Michel Platini, president of the European football governing body Uefa, praised Prince Ali.
“I am proud that Uefa has defended and supported a movement for change at Fifa – change which, in my opinion, is crucial if this organisation is to regain its credibility,” he said.
Mr Platini had called on Mr Blatter to resign on Thursday.
Greg Dyke, the chairman of the English Football Association, told the BBC: “Sepp Blatter has run this organisation for 16 years, and for all of those 16 years, there have been levels of corruption.
“Sepp Blatter is not the man who is going to be able to change that.”