Thursday,19 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1249, (4 - 10 June 2015)
Thursday,19 July, 2018
Issue 1249, (4 - 10 June 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Blatter to resign

FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter will resign from soccer’s governing body amid a huge corruption scandal, reports Inas Mazhar

Al-Ahram Weekly

Joseph S. Blatter said on Tuesday that he will resign from his post and promised to call for fresh elections to choose a successor, expected between December and March. His statements came four days since his re-election.

“I will continue to exercise my function (until the new election), said Blatter, who looked strained during the hastily organised press conference. The new election will be overseen by Domenico Scala, chairman of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee. Scala gave a statement immediately after Blatter in which he praised a decision “that was difficult and courageous in the current circumstances,” adding that “this is the most responsible way to ensure an orderly transition.

The re-election of the 79-year-old Joseph Blatter for a fifth straight four-year term during the 65th FIFA Congress held in Zurich last Friday was a shock to many around the world. People believed the dawn arrests in Zurich conducted by Swiss authorities of seven top FIFA officials two days before the elections meant Blatter’s downfall in the face of his sole opponent, Prine Ali of Jordan. But it didn’t.

The arrests were made after an FBI-led investigation into corruption in FIFA, the world’s governing body of football. Blatter is not part of the investigation in which authorities detailed charges as being related to “bribes and kick-backs with a total of $150 million”. The senior FIFA officials mainly come from the CONCACAF (the North, Central America and Caribbean football confederation).

They were arrested after the US Department of Justice issued a 47-count indictment charging 14 defendants with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies in a 24-year scheme. The remaining seven are working in marketing and television broadcasting rights.

Hours after the arrests, Swiss authorities opened further criminal proceedings over the awarding of the hosting rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. The local authorities in Zurich seized from the home of FIFA headquarters documents and electronic data as part of an investigation into “criminal mismanagement” and “money laundering”. Ten FIFA executive committee members are expected to be summoned by the Swiss police for questioning regarding the voting process of the two World Cup editions that went to Russia and Qatar and which took place in December 2010.

At the beginning of the FIFA vote on Friday, its congress had confirmed that all 209 FIFA member associations were entitled to vote.

After the first ballot (206 valid votes — 133 for Blatter, 73 for Prince Ali), Prince Ali addressed the congress to announce that he was withdrawing from the race and that he would not enter into a second round. According to FIFA regulations, the winner needed at least two-thirds of the votes. Blatter needed only seven more while the prince needed at least double the votes he had claimed. Realising he could not win the run-off, Prince Ali, 39, bowed out.

The jubilant FIFA president spoke to the congress following his re-election. “First, I want to congratulate His Royal Highness Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein. He obtained a very good result. Then, I want to thank you for the trust and confidence. I take the responsibility to bring back FIFA where it should be. And I promise you: at the end of my term, I will give FIFA in a very strong position. Let’s go FIFA!

“We need more respect for the Oceanian confederation. And although I agree that we don’t touch the FIFA World Cup, we need more balance for the FIFA youth tournaments. We also need more women in the football institutions.”

Blatter had spoken to the congress in the morning before the elections held in the afternoon. “Events of this week have cast a shadow on football and our congress. But the guilty ones — if confirmed guilty — are individuals; it’s not the entire organization. Now, we, all together, have to repair the damage, immediately. I’m calling on you to put FIFA back on the right track. You are FIFA, and FIFA needs you.”

After the congress had been updated on the latest activities led by world football’s governing body to fight racism and discrimination, Blatter reiterated: “The 2013 congress voted for disciplinary sanctions which include deduction of points, relegation or expulsion of a team. I’m convinced that when the disciplinary bodies of the football institutions around the world start to impose such sanctions, that will have a major impact on the way to eradicating such a plague from the game.”

The delegates were updated about the implementation of the Handshake for Peace campaign, which now forms part of the match protocol at all FIFA competitions, with team captains and referees meeting to officially shake hands as a symbol of respect and solidarity before and after the match, thus setting a strong example of friendship and peace.

The congress also received updates on FIFA’s work on the issue of third-party ownership, as well as on its football development activities – FIFA’s primary mission – and on its initiatives to promote women’s football, just a week ahead of the kick-off of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada which, for the first time, has 24 participating teams.

FIFA’s activities in the field of medicine – prevention as well as health promotion, in particular – were also highlighted, this after FIFA had organised its third medical conference for all member associations earlier this week.

The congress approved the consolidated financial statements for 2014 and the 2011-2014 four-year period as well as the 2016 budget.

Furthermore, upon the recommendation of the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee, it appointed KPMG as FIFA’s auditors for the 2015-2018 cycle.

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