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FIFA President Sepp Blatter Reelected For A Fourth Term Despite Corruption Scandal

Switzerland -- FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter speaks to reporters during a press conference in Zurich, 30May2011
FIFA head Sepp Blatter has been reelected for a fourth term as president of world football’s governing body after pledging to steer the corruption-tainted organization through "troubled waters."

The 75-year-old Swiss executive has also vowed to implement "radical reform" to the process for selecting future host countries of the World Cup.

At the vote during FIFA's 61st congress in Zurich, Blatter received 186 out of 203 ballots, ending a week of controversy surrounding his unchallenged candidacy.

Addressing delegates after he was confirmed, Blatter -- who called himself "the captain of the ship" before the vote -- promised to right that ship’s course.

"We will put FIFA -- the ship of FIFA -- back on the right course and on clear, transparent waters. We will need some time. We cannot do it in one day, but we shall do it," he said.

Blatter ran unopposed for the post of FIFA president after his only rival candidate, Mohamed bin Hammam, withdrew and was suspended as the Asian football chief by FIFA's ethics committee amid allegations that bribes were paid to buy support for his presidency bid.

Hammam said on June 1 that he is being treated unfairly because he was suspended before an investigation into the bribery allegations and without being found guilty.

Suspended Asian football chief Mohamed bin Hammam
The 62-year-old Qatari also says he was denied access to the FIFA congress on June 1 and has been unable to file an appeal against his suspension.

"I am very sad and disappointed over what has happened in the last days," Hammam said in a statement. "I will never accept how my name and my reputation have been damaged. I will fight for my rights."

Sponsors Are Worried

English and Scottish officials had called for the FIFA election to be postponed, urging in a statement for an outside body to examine corruption allegations within the football organization's governance.

Britain's Prince William, who is head of the English Football Association, said a fair election cannot take place following an international outcry over the allegations.

Several of FIFA's most important sponsors, including Coca-Cola and Adidas, have also expressed concern about the damage done to the organization's image.

But in an early vote in Zurich today, only 17 of the 208 FIFA delegates said the presidential vote should be delayed.

Blatter today also repeated his opposition to calls for an independent investigation into the charges of corruption, saying any reforms at FIFA should come from within the organization itself.

"I'm certain -- and I agree -- that you will follow me, that we can settle all the problems inside FIFA," he said.

In a major policy shift, he vowed that FIFA member nations will choose the World Cup hosts from 2026 instead of a small board that now includes just 22 people.

Criticism has mounted recently over the board's power determine which country will host and profit from the world championships of the world's most popular sport -- and why those in a position to make that decision must only answer to themselves.

FIFA vice-president Jack Warner has also been suspended
Meanwhile, the head of Germany's football federation, Theo Zwanziger, called for FIFA to reexamine the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar -- a decision that also is at the center of bribery allegations.

When asked about calls to take away the event from Qatar because of the accusations, Zwanziger said "there is a significant degree of suspicion that one cannot just dismiss."

Zwanziger's plea on June 1 came 48 hours after the 2022 World Cup organizers, Qatar, "categorically denied" any wrongdoing.

The allegations of corruption over the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar were made by FIFA vice president Jack Warner, who said the country had "bought" the world's biggest sports extravaganza.

Since raising those allegations, Warner himself has been suspended from his post by FIFA.

A Multi-Billion-Dollar Industry

The controversy over the way FIFA chooses its leadership and determines which country will host the World Cup cuts to the heart of corruption, business ethics, and global politics within sports.

FIFA began with relatively modest roots when it named Uruguay to host the first World Cup tournament in 1930.

FIFA has continued to hold the month-long tournament -- known as the World Cup Finals -- every four years since, except in 1942 and 1946 when it did not take place because of World War II.

Since the inaugural 1930 tournament, the World Cup has grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry. It was first televised in 1954.

With 32 national teams now competing in the World Cup Finals, it has become the most widely viewed and followed sporting event in the world -- surpassing even the Olympic Games.

The 2010 World Cup tournament, hosted by South Africa, generated more than $3 billion in revenue.