NZ Football takes a brave stand but Blatter re-elected

Fifa boss now faces possible World Cup boycott by European teams, and the withdrawal of A-list sponsors like Visa.


New Zealand Football voted against Sepp Blatter in Fifa presidential election following multiple Fifa officials being accused of rampant and systemic corruption.

Australia also voted against the incumbent. The two countries were among the few to speak out about their intentions in the run-up to the vote. The Guardian called it an "honourable but risky stand" in the murky world of Fifa politics.

In the end it was for naught. Mr Blatter (79) defeated his rival, Jordanian Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein, in the first round of voting as he secured the backing of 133 of the 209 voting members. African and Asian countries block-voted in support of Mr Blatter. He also gained the backing of some South American countries.

Some pundits are picking Mr Blatter might not serve out his fifth term, however. More arrests are expected. UK Prime Minister David Cameron has called on Mr Blatter to step down. Uefa president Michel Platini, president of the European soccer body Uefa, has been openly hostile. Most of Uefa's 53 members voted for Prince Ali. Mr Platini says European countries might boycott the next World Cup.

Fifa also faces the possible loss of A-list sponsors like Visa, which says it will walk if the international soccer body does not clean house.

But for now, the five-term Fifa boss is showing no change to his trademark style. "I am the president now, the president of everybody," he said during his victory speech.

On Thursday, US prosecutors indicted 14 people from football’s world governing body, seven of whom were arrested at a luxury hotel in Zurich by Swiss police, for bribes and kickbacks worth more than $US100 million over two decades.

New Zealand is hosting the Fifa Under-20 World Cup, which kicks off this weekend

The chairman of the organising committee for that tournament, Jeffrey Webb, is one of the Fifa officials accused.

NZ Football president Mark Aspden says the developments over the past 48 hours show Fifa needs “substantive change.”

“The executive committee believes real change can only be implemented with a new president and, accordingly, we have opted to support the election of Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein.

Former New Zealand football administrator Charlie Dempsey, who died in 2008, gained worldwide attention when he abstained from voting for hosting rights to the 2006 World Cup because of “pressures” from various people, despite having previously indicated support for South Africa.

His decision saw Germany win instead.

Swiss prosecutors also opened a separate investigation into the bidding process that awarded Russia and Qatar the 2018 and 2022 World Cups respectively.

But Fifa is ruling out a re-vote on the awarding of both tournaments.

Last month, the 2011 Rugby World Cup organising committee’s former head, Martin Snedden, said New Zealand could strike a part-hosting deal for the multi-billion dollar Fifa World Cup with Australia.

Mr Snedden said he believed co-hosting the tournament was a realistic goal, given the success of the Rugby World Cup in 2011 and this year’s co-hosting of the ICC Cricket World Cup.

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