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Irish FA vote against Sepp Blatter as Nelson admits it’s time for change

By Graham Luney

The Irish Football Association say they will vote for Prince Ali Bin al Hussein of Jordan in today's presidential election in Zurich in an attempt to end Sepp Blatter's reign at Fifa.

Irish FA chief-executive Patrick Nelson has confirmed that they will unite with other European associations and back Prince Ali.

Blatter remains determined to win the election despite Uefa president Michel Platini calling on him to quit, however the 79-year-old may fail to secure a fifth term of office after seven Fifa officials were arrested and 18 people indicted by US authorities on corruption charges.

Nelson says the Irish FA are singing from the same hymn sheet of those who say it is time for change'.

"We have agreed to follow the Uefa recommendation which is to vote for Prince Ali because, like a number of European associations and others outside of Uefa, we believe that it is time for change.

"When you look at this week's events you conclude that Fifa has become a soap opera and we cannot allow the world's most important game to be this way. It's the most popular game in the world and deserves better, said Nelson.

"It should not be a soap opera and it's time for change."

During Blatter's 17-year tenure he has received the support of the Irish FA, but Nelson added: "The past is the past and we know what we need and want to do in this election."

Each of Fifa's 209 associations should have a vote, although a few can face disqualification for reasons such as not playing in competitions.

Nelson added: "It's a democratic decision and we will see what the outcome is but we are happy to support Prince Ali who we have met several times since 2012."

Platini said Uefa would unite behind Prince Ali and when asked if a boycott of Fifa competitions was a possibility, replied: "Uefa associations will meet in Berlin next week. We will be open to all options."

Pressed further on the prospect of a World Cup boycott, Platini added: "There may be proposals. I honestly don't wish that."

The FAI had earlier indicated they would be backing Prince Ali, with chief-executive John Delaney stating: "Regardless of the good he claims to have done during his tenure, he has to recognise Fifa has an incredibly bad brand image. We won't be voting for him."

One man relieved to be leaving Fifa is Jim Boyce who steps down as British vice-president today.

Boyce has dealt with uncomfortable questions in a dignified manner but he leaves the stage knowing many within Fifa should have conducted themselves differently - including Blatter.

The former Irish FA president believes Blatter's biggest mistake was not taking action against the likes of Jack Warner from Trinidad, Brazil's Ricardo Teixeira or former president Joao Havelange much earlier in his presidency.

He reflected: "The people who acted in an improper manner should have been away years ago, the action was not quick enough."

David Gill said he would refuse to take up Britain's Fifa vice-presidency if Blatter wins a fifth term as president. The FA vice-chairman and Manchester United director said it would be "futile" to serve under Blatter if he did not realise the "seismic" events of this week were a resignation issue.

Blatter tackled the crisis head on at the Fifa Congress opening ceremony, saying these were "unprecedented and difficult times for Fifa" and that corruption brought "shame and humiliation on football".

He added: "Actions of individuals bring shame and humiliation on football and demand action and change on us. We cannot allow the reputation of football and Fifa to be dragged through the mud any longer, it has to stop - here and now.

"I know many people hold me ultimately responsible for the actions of the global football community, whether it's the decision for the hosting of a World Cup or a corruption scandal. We or I cannot monitor everyone all of the time - if people want to do wrong they will also try to hide it."

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