Sun, May 15, 2011 - Page 18 News List

Blatter says FIFA will not survive if he is deposed

AP, LONDON

Sepp Blatter warned on Friday that the “survival of FIFA is at stake” if he is deposed as president next month, while countering accusations his command of world soccer is undemocratic.

Blatter, who is being challenged for FIFA’s top job by Mohammed bin Hammam, has fast-tracked an investigation into fresh allegations of corruption against six senior members that surfaced this week.

Bin Hammam, a former ally of Blatter, accused the 75-year-old Swiss on Thursday of allowing FIFA’s image to be “sullied beyond compare.”

However, Blatter insisted in a column printed in newspapers across Europe that world soccer would face an uncertain future if he isn’t elected to serve a fourth four-year term.

“The ballot on 1 June could lead to a seismic shift with irreversible damage. Quite simply, the survival of FIFA is at stake,” Blatter said. “It is a question of whether the game’s established world governing body will continue to exist after this date or whether it will disappear into a black hole.”

Despite painting such a pessimistic vision of FIFA’s future, Blatter is confident of being re-elected by its 208 national members.

“I will win the election with a clear two-thirds majority,” he said. “South America, Central and North America, Europe, Oceania and a significant part of Africa and Asia will continue to support my ideas. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile outlining what the alternative would be, ie none at all.”

However, Blatter acknowledged that he is “accused of acting in an undemocratic way.”

“Decision-making authority can and must, however, be organized centrally, as in any other global undertaking,” he said. “Football works because there is one set of laws that applies on every continent. Otherwise, everyone would do their own thing. Or let me pose it like this: Who, in future, would establish which laws of the game if decision-making powers were delegated to the six confederations?”

Blatter will try to shift the focus this weekend onto his push to use soccer to promote peace in the Middle East.

Accompanied by Prince Ali of Jordan, Blatter will travel today to the Palestinian territory and the following day to Israel.

However, the visit is likely to be overshadowed by continuing questioning of the probity of FIFA.

When the chairman of England’s Football Association (FA), David Bernstein, was asked on Thursday whether he trusted either Blatter or bin Hammam to run world soccer, he said: “I don’t want to answer that question.”

Both the FA and FIFA are running separate investigations into alleged corruption during the bidding contest for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups that was revealed during a British parliamentary inquiry last week.

FIFA is looking at the validity of claims that executive committee members Issa Hayatou and Jacques Anouma were paid US$1.5 million to vote for Qatar, which was awarded the 2022 World Cup, according to evidence from an -undercover investigation by the Sunday Times newspaper released to the British hearing.

David Triesman, the chairman of the FA until May last year, told the lawmakers that four long-standing FIFA executive committee members — Jack Warner, Nicolas Leoz, Ricardo Teixeira and Worawi Makudi — engaged in “improper and unethical” conduct in the 2018 bidding, which was won by Russia.

Separately on Friday, Worawi was stripped of the presidency of the Football Association of Thailand (FAT).

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