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Blatter Wins Reelection As FIFA President

  • RFE/RL

FIFA President Sepp Blatter reacts after he was reelected at the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich on May 29.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter reacts after he was reelected at the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich on May 29.

Sepp Blatter has won the FIFA presidency for a fifth time in an election overshadowed by corruption allegations and arrests.

"I will be in command of this boat of FIFA," Blatter told delegates gathered at FIFA’s annual congress in Zurich on May 29. "We will bring it back off shore."

His rival, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, withdrew from the race after the first round of voting in which the 79-year-old Swiss fell seven short of the two-thirds needed.

Blatter has defied calls to stand down following the May 27 arrests of seven FIFA officials by Swiss police based on U.S. charges of corruption.

Swiss authorities have opened a separate criminal investigation into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively.

Sepp Blatter had vowed to lead FIFA out of the "storm" if elected to a fifth term.

"I promise a strong FIFA, I want to climb back up the hill, arrange FIFA's situation," he told the FIFA congress in Zurich on May 29 before voting began.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko welcomed Blatter's reelection.

Mutko also called on the football’s governing body to reform, telling RIA Novosti, "We consider that it's necessary to draw serious conclusions, to do everything to make changes happen."

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the arrests were "clearly” an attempt to block Blatter’s reelection and claimed he had previously rejected "pressure put on him with the aim of banning" Russia from hosting the 2018 competition.

Earlier in the day, British Prime Minister David Cameron had said Blatter should resign and "the sooner that happens, the better."

Speaking in Berlin on May 29 with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Cameron said it is "unthinkable" that Blatter would be the person to clean up football's world governing body in the wake of seven arrests amid charges of bribery and other corruption.

Cameron added: "Frankly, what we have seen is the ugly side of the beautiful game."

Merkel said whichever candidate wins the election must "resolve these allegations and ensure that FIFA is not burdened" with corruption allegations in the future.

Blatter said at the FIFA summit on May 29 that the choosing of Russia and Qatar to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups was the reason for the May 27 arrests of seven FIFA officials by Swiss police in Zurich based on U.S. charges.

"If two other countries had emerged from the envelope, I think we would not have these problems today," Blatter said.

Both the United States and Britain had been in contention to host the World Cups awarded to Russia and Qatar.

Blatter had been favored to win the election based on his overwhelming support of delegates from African and Asian soccer federations.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP
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