Sepp Blatter wins fifth FIFA term as challenger concedes

Sepp Blatter wins fifth FIFA term as challenger concedes

Sepp Blatter was re-elected president of FIFA for a fifth term on Friday after his only challenger conceded defeat in an election overshadowed by allegations of rampant corruption in world soccer.

The 79-year-old was returned to the presidency for four more years but he failed to secure election on the first ballot with Prince Ali withdrawing before a second ballot was undertaken.

Blatter polled 133 of the 209 votes in the first round, seven short of the two-thirds majority he needed, with his opponent securing 73 votes.

“For the next four years I will be in command of this boat called FIFA and we will bring it back ashore, we will bring it back to the beach,” Blatter said, insisting this would be his last four years at the helm.

“The age is no problem. You have people that are 50 who look old. I like you, I like my job and I like to be with you. I’m not perfect, nobody’s perfect. Trust and confidence, together we go.”

Prince Ali had asked delegates to “listen to your conscience” and warned the watching world would not accept another Blatter win on the back of a week of dawn raids, criminal investigations and staggering corruption allegations.

But the status quo prevailed, leaving UEFA president Michel Platini, Football Association chairman Greg Dyke and the rest of Blatter’s critics to ponder their next move.

Both Platini and Dyke have refused to rule out the option of boycotting future World Cups, while the outcome means David Gill will make good on his pre-vote promise not to take up his FIFA vice-presidency in the event of a Blatter win.

Dyke insisted that Blatter’s re-election should not be taken as a guarantee that he will rule for another four years, saying he would be surprised if he remains in charge for half of that time.

Dyke said: “To quote the Attorney General, ‘this is the beginning of the process, not the end’. I think there is an awful lot more of this to play out.

“The idea Blatter could reform FIFA is suspect. I’d be very surprised if he was still in this job in two years’ time.”

Former Portugal player Luis Figo, who was in the presidential election race until withdrawing his candidacy last week, was scathing of the decision to re-elect Blatter.

“Today was another dark day in Zurich,” Figo said. “FIFA has lost, but above everything, football has lost and everyone who truly cares about it has lost too.

“Instead of what Mr Blatter said, the happenings of last Wednesday were not bad for football: they were bad for FIFA and for all the responsible that lead the organisation until now.”

After conceding defeat, Prince Ali said: “I just wanted to thank all of you. It’s been a wonderful journey. I want to especially thank all of you who were brave enough to vote for me.”