Blatter the devil you know

As the World Cup kicks off, the re-election of Sepp Blatter as president of football’s governing body FIFA, will raise eyebrows.

At a meeting to discuss the embattled sports body’s finances just a day before his triumph at the polls, the 66-year-old Swede was shown the red card by many FIFA members.

In scenes mimicking a poor refereeing decision, delegates blew whistles, booed and jeered during Blatter’s speech after he had waved Scottish vice- president David Wills away from the podium.

Wills, one of Blatter’s fiercest critics, had attempted to stand up and defend his internal audit committee investigation into FIFA’s finances, but he never even got the chance.

The next day Blatter triumphed at the polls, beating off competition from Issa Hayatou, despite a campaign from the Cameroonian for more ‘openness and accountability’.

Such is Blatter’s status that members apparently ignored Wills’ claims of a financial crisis verging on insolvency, securing him almost two thirds of the vote in a 139 to 56 victory. They also overlooked an official complaint of alleged mismanagement of FIFA finances – a charge laid by 11 members of its executive committee, following a report by general secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinene. After Blatter’s re-election that complaint was withdrawn and Zen-Ruffinen agreed to step down.

Blatter hit back ten days prior to the vote, claiming the allegations were groundless, exonerating himself of any wrongdoing.

Blatter campaigned on the back of his financial assistance programme, which promises every FIFA member $1m every four years, with the six confederations getting $10m over the same period.

With a BA in business administration and economics, Blatter will have to demonstrate all his business acumen over his next four-year term. His credentials in the management of sports bodies are enviable. He is a former general secretary to the Swiss Ice Hockey Association and joined FIFA in 1975. Six years later he was appointed general secretary, winning his first presidential term in 1998.

He will also be judged by the success of this year’s World Cup and the 2006 tournament.

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