FIFA’s Congress has opted to re-elect embattled president Sepp Blatter for a fifth term, amid an international scandal inside the organization that apparently dates back some 20 years.
The 79-year-old Blatter, who has been president of FIFA since 1998, defeated Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan.
The FIFA vice-president had run on a platform of change, emphasizing the need to return transparency, accountability and inclusiveness to the world’s football governing body.
Of the 209 delegates of national football associations voting, Blatter took 133 votes in the first round, failing to secure the two-thirds majority he needed to be re-elected.
Prince Ali got 73 votes in the first round and withdrew from the race before a second round commenced.
Blatter was widely expected to win, as he had the support of the Asian Federation Confederation members (including Qatar), as well as the African bloc.
Blatter’s reelection comes days after the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, where FIFA is headquartered, launched a criminal investigation in connection to the World Cup tournaments being awarded to Russia and Qatar.
Also this week, the US ordered the arrest of several FIFA executives on charges of racketeering, fraud and other crimes that date back to the mid-1990s.
The US indictments appear to be unrelated to the allegations of bribery that have tainted Qatar’s bid to host the World Cup.
However, some of the individuals targeted, including former vice president Jack Warner, have previously been named in connection to the Gulf country’s efforts to host the tournament.
Addressing these charges, Blatter, who does not face any accusations of wrong-doing, said FIFA would continue to work with authorities and within the organization “to root out any misconduct, to regain your trust and ensure that football worldwide is free from wrongdoing.”
In a victory speech tonight, Blatter added “we will bring (FIFA) back” onshore, and said he would “not touch the World Cups,” presumably referring to the 2018 and 2022 bids.
This afternoon, the 2022 World Cup organizing committee in Qatar broke its silence over the developments of the last few days, reiterating that it hopes the World Cup unites people and accelerates positive change.
In a statement, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy continued:
“We wish to reiterate that we have fully complied with every investigation that has been initiated concerning the 2018/2022 bidding process and will continue to do so, should this be requested.
We conducted our bid with integrity and to the highest ethical standards.”