Belfast Telegraph

Fifa have been told to sort out mess: Nelson

By Graham Luney

Irish Football Association chief executive Patrick Nelson expects the campaign for Fifa to clean up their act to gain momentum even though Sepp Blatter has been re-elected for a fifth term as president.

The Irish FA voted against Blatter after a week which saw seven Fifa officials arrested and 18 people connected to football indicted on corruption charges by the US justice department.

But the 79-year-old saw off the challenge from Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, winning the first round by 133 votes to 73, and after Prince Ali decided to withdraw ahead of the second round, Blatter was installed as Fifa president for another four years.

Although he won the vote, Blatter was given a bloody nose and the victory is also set to see further protests from Uefa - the first action has come from David Gill, the Football Association vice-chairman, who will reject the post of British vice-president as he does not want to serve under Blatter.

Gill was due to replace former Irish FA president Jim Boyce, who has now stepped down.

Irish FA chief Nelson feels that Fifa cannot ignore demands to root out any corruption in their ranks.

"We feel this has been a very important week for football and for Fifa," said Nelson. "An important message has been delivered since news of the arrests emerged.

"We backed Prince Ali in recognition that change needed to happen at Fifa and the organisation must recognise that those who care about the game want to see an end to the negative publicity.

"With regard to the vote, that's how democracy works and we all have to accept the outcome. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

"We are very happy with the decision we made to vote for Prince Ali and he received a respectable number of votes, sending a message to those within Fifa that cannot be underestimated. Prince Ali had a good campaign and we were happy to support him."

Football Association chairman Greg Dyke says he would be "very surprised" if Blatter was still Fifa president in two years.

Nelson would only say: "He is president of Fifa and while people will have views on him, we are proud members of Fifa and Uefa and are committed to playing a role in both organisations."

John Delaney, chief executive of the Football Association of Ireland, believes that despite Blatter's victory, the pressure of the latest crisis will mean he won't see out his four-year term.

He said: "I still think this is the beginning of the end of Sepp Blatter. I don't see him seeing his four years out - the momentum is too great. We have to see how best we can use the European muscle. We also need to go on a charm offensive with Africa and Asia."

Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan said: "We are disappointed but unsurprised by the election result and will consult with Uefa to consider our collective position in order to achieve the essential governance changes required within Fifa."

Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker used Twitter to call on leading football federations to boycott Fifa.

"As predictable as it is depressing. All those Fifa members that voted for Blatter have betrayed the game they are supposed to cherish," the former England captain wrote. "The only way this revolting organisation will change is if the major football federations walk out. It's time to grow a pair of footballs."

In his victory speech, Blatter said: "I am the president now, the president of everybody."

He added: "I am not perfect, nobody is perfect, but we will do a good job together I am sure.

"I take the responsibility to bring Fifa back to where it should be... Let's go Fifa! Let's go Fifa!"

He also hinted that this term in office, his fifth, could be his last, saying: "At the end of my term I will give up Fifa in a strong position."

Prince Ali said: "It's been a wonderful journey and I want to thank in particular those of you who were brave enough to support me."

Belfast Telegraph


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