● Blatter wins uncontested presidential vote
● Plans to clean up in-house ethics committee
● FA unrepentant despite crushing defeat
FIFA president Sepp Blatter won a fourth term in office amid farcical scenes in Zurich yesterday while the English Football Association were left virtually friendless and lambasted for their attempts to postpone his coronation.
Blatter, as expected, stood unopposed following the suspension of his main rival Mohamed Bin Hammam amid allegations of bribery.
He collected 186 out of 203 votes from the ballot of Fifa’s member associations to seal his position at the head of the world governing body until 2015.
The absurdity of the situation was neatly encapsulated by the polling card given to delegates which displayed only the name of the sole candidate.
The 75-year-old emerged from his triumph bullish, declaring “something marvellous has happened today in this solidarity” and insisted he was capable of “putting Fifa’s ship back on the right course in clear, transparent waters”.
Blatter then revealed that former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger would head the band of “politicians, celebrities and former footballers” making up the “solution committee” that would attempt to restore his organisation’s tarnished reputation.
But his pledge to strengthen the in-house ethics committee and change the voting procedure by which World Cup host nations are chosen are hardly the sweeping reforms likely to appease the national associations and heavyweight sponsors who have voiced their concerns over the accusations of corruption that have engulfed Fifa.
The election only took place after the FA’s bid to force a postponement suffered a crushing defeat by 172 votes to 17, representing another painful snub following on from the failed 2018 World Cup bid.
Scotland and Vietnam, mistakenly, voted in support of FA chairman David Bernstein’s motion, but he was unable to count on the support of even Wales or Northern Ireland, while the likes of Argentina and Cyprus made their feelings known in a series of stinging attacks.
Despite the late attempt to derail Blatter’s bid to hang on to power ending in abject defeat, Bernstein (left) believes he and England’s governing body were right to voice their concerns in such a public fashion.
“I think it was worth it; we made an important point of principle,” he said. “We felt a coronation wasn’t appropriate given what’s happening at Fifa.
“The problem at Fifa is that people are scared to put their heads above the parapet. There’s quite a groundswell of support but you have to talk to people privately to understand that.”
Bernstein did find an ally in Bayern Munich and European Club Association chief Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who said: “The recent happenings have proven that Fifa needs a change in its whole structure.
“I request Fifa to immediately introduce democratic and transparent structures and procedures. European clubs will no longer accept that they do not participate in the decision-making when it comes to club related matters.”