Sepp Blatter is on the brink of a fourth term in charge of Fifa after attempts to delay Wednesday’s presidential election failed.The English and Scottish Football Associations wanted the election postponed amid allegations of corruption within Fifa.English FA chairman David Bernstein put the proposal to Fifa’s congress but 172 of 206 voters opted against a delay.The vote to formally re-elect Blatter will take place later on Wednesday.The English and Scottish FA’s needed three-quarters of Fifa’s congress to support their proposal but received little support. Only 17 votes were registered in their favour, with 17 abstentions.In his address, Bernstein said: “It gives me no pleasure to make this speech. A lot of people have warned me I shouldn’t be making this speech but Fifa is a democratic organisation.”We are faced with an unsatisfactory situation. We are subject to universal criticism from governments, sponsors, media and the wider world.”With this background the election has turned into one-horse race.“In the view of the Football Association this should be avoided both for the sake of Fifa and the president itself. A coronation without an opponent provides a flawed mandate.”I ask for a postponement to allow time for an additional candidate or candidates to stand and compete in an open and fair election.”Only by so doing will the winner have proper credibility over the next four years.”The conclusion to his speech received a noticeably cool reception from the Fifa members in Zurich, with one or two applauding but the rest sitting in silence.The lack of support became even clearer when several Fifa members who followed Bernstein to the podium voiced strong criticism of the FA’s stance.”We are ill at ease with people who wield unfounded accusations – he who accuses must provide evidence,” said Selemani Omari, president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s football federation.”Fifa belongs to 208 national associations and not to one association, we must not seek solutions through the media or a Parliament in any third country.”
Representatives of Haiti, Benin, Fiji and Cyprus also expressed their disapproval to more enthusiastic applause.Fifa senior vice-president Julio Grondona also delivered a stinging riposte to the English FA.”We always have attacks from England which are mostly lies with the support of journalism which is more busy lying than telling the truth,” said the Argentine. “This upsets and disturbs the Fifa family.”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.”The FA had announced before the congress that it would be abstaining from the presidential vote and, even though their actions unsettled Fifa members, they did receive the backing of the English government.”We agree with the FA that FIFA should have suspended the presidential election until the investigations had been completed,” said a spokesman for Downing Street.”The most important thing is for the public to have confidence in Fifa and for that to happen we need to have Fifa reform.”Blatter, who has held his post since 1998, has promised, if re-elected, to implement changes at Fifa in the wake of the allegations of corruption as he told the congress he was the determined to guide the organisation out of its current troubles.
“We have been hit and I personally have been slapped,” said the 75-year-old Swiss, who continues to receive plenty of support despite the controversy which has surrounded Fifa.”We have made mistakes and we will learn from this. I can say to a certain extent that this is a good warning, not just to look into our problems and I am willing to face the public anger in order to serve football.”I am the captain weathering the storm, this is a difficult period for Fifa and I admit that readily. Not only is the pyramid shaking but our ship has drawn some water.”We need someone who will accept this responsibility. I’m willing to do this. And reforms will be made not just touch-ups but radical decisions, the necessary reforms.”We must do something because I do not want ever again that we face this undignified situation.”Blatter emerged as the only candidate for the Fifa presidency after his rival Mohamed Bin Hammam, president of the Asian Football Federation, pulled out.Bin Hammam, along with Concacaf president Jack Warner, were provisionally suspended by Fifa’s ethics committee over allegations that financial incentives were offered to Caribbean Football Union (CFU) members. Both have denied any wrongdoing.Bin Hammam has appealed against his ban but was denied entry into the Fifa congress meeting on Wednesday.The controversy over his withdrawal resulted in the English and Scottish FA’s action, with allegations of bribery concerning the World Cup bidding process also undermining Fifa.Major sponsors expressed their concern over the damage being done by these allegations, while the president of the German Football Federation, Theo Zwanziger, has called upon the organisation to re-examine the award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. – BBC