FIFA to elect its president in shadow of corruption probes

Two hundred and nine FIFA members to vote to elect their new president amid controversies following corruption scandal

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The twin corruption probes by US and Swiss authorities shocked all football fans and executives around the world on Wednesday as high-ranking FIFA officials were arrested and faith of 2018 and 2022 World Cup’s called into question.

Amid the scandal and controversies about the role of incumbent President Sepp Blatter in them, FIFA will elect its new president on Friday.

The 209 members of the organisation will choose between Prince Ali of Jordan and four-time President Sepp Blatter, who many believe is involved in corruption and was called to step down by UEFA, the European football’s governing body.

On the eve of the elections, crowds gathered at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich to protest and demand Sepp Blatter to step down and withdraw from the election.

Despite the criticism and a pledge by UEFA president Michel Platini to support Prince Ali for presidency, Blatter is still considered the favourite to win the election.

The reason behind loyalty and power of Blatter lies in FIFA election rules and revenue distribution schemes.

In FIFA elections, all 209 members hold a single vote which means countries like Brazil and Germany, who are the latest two world champions and play important roles in promotion of the game around the world, have the same power with small countries like Samoa, Cape Verde and Brunei.

FIFA’s revenue distribution scheme favours small countries and enable officials from these countries to attend FIFA events, stay at the world's finest hotels and bring money to their home countries, which guarantee their votes for Blatter as they fear a leadership change can result in a change in revenue sharing policy.

Between 2011 and 2014 FIFA devoted $1.05 billion of its $5.72 billion reported revenue to development programmes aimed at funding football in small countries, which increase their FIFA officials’ loyalty to Blatter.

Here is an Associated Press analysis focusing on the regions and the voting blocs in Friday's elections between Blatter and Jordan's Prince Ali bin Hussein.

To win the elections, candidates will need to get two thirds of the 209 votes in the first round, but a simple majority would be enough in the second round.

Europe - 53 Votes

While Europe has the world's wealthiest leagues and clubs, it has not held FIFA's top spot since 1974, when Brazil's Joao Havelange ousted England's Stanley Rous 68-52. Havelange held office for 24 years.

Blatter, a 79-year-old Swiss native who had been Havelange's top aide, defeated Sweden's Lennart Johansson, then the president of UEFA, 111-80 on the first ballot in 1998. There were accusations even before the election that Blatter's associates were buying votes.

A majority of the Union of European Football Associations is expected to back Ali — UEFA president Michel Platini estimates at least 45.

A former French national team captain, Platini replaced Johansson as UEFA president in 2007 and has been viewed as a possible Blatter successor. Platini opposed Blatter but announced last August that he declined to run against him, saying "Now is not my time, not yet." He met with Blatter on Thursday and urged him to resign.

North and Central America and Caribbean - 35 Votes

Long considered a soccer backwater, CONCACAF gained influence during the presidency of Trinidad and Tobago's Jack Warner, who was among those indicted this week. The 1994 World Cup in the US boosted media and corporate attention, but leagues in Mexico and the US trail European counterparts in revenue.

Sunil Gulati, the US Soccer Federation president in 2006, won North America's spot on FIFA's executive committee two years ago in an 18-17 vote over Mexico's Justino Compean and is viewed as a reformer. But Gulati has cautioned that views differ around the world as to what constitutes necessary reform.

Gulati says the US and Canada will vote for Ali, but most of CONCACAF is expected to support Blatter. At a CONCACAF meeting last month, Dominican Football Federation President Osiris Guzman compared Blatter to Moses, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, Jesus and Nelson Mandela.

Africa - 54 Votes

Blatter has had strong backing voiced in Africa, where few nations have powerful leagues. The Confederation of African Football issued a statement on Thursday reiterating its support for Blatter.

When CAF President Issa Hayatou of Cameroon ran against Blatter in 2002, he lost 139-56.

Asia - 46 Votes

Ali may be from Asia, but that doesn't mean he will have great support from his own federation, which issued a statement on Thursday backing Blatter.

Qatar's Mohamed bin Hammam, president of the Asian Football Confederation from 2002-11, ran against Blatter four years ago, then withdrew after accusations he helped arrange bribes to Caribbean voters.

Football Federation Australia Chairman Frank Lowy said in a statement he planned to vote for Ali. "FFA believes that profound change within FIFA is needed," he said.

South America - 10 Votes

The continent's soccer is dominated by Brazil and Argentina, and the confederation is expected to support Blatter. With only 10 votes, South America has the fewest of any confederation. It has far greater influence on FIFA's executive committee, where it has three of 25 votes.

Oceania - 11 Votes

A small and relatively weak confederation became smaller and weaker when Australia left in 2006 and joined the AFC, leaving the remaining small nations loyal to Blatter and the development money whose distribution he has led.

A statement in January said all 11 nations planned to vote for Blatter.

TRTWorld and agencies