London Evening Standard

Fifa are set to ignore demands to delay tomorrow’s presidential elections despite the corruption scandal that has plunged the organisation into crisis.

Uefa have called for the vote to be postponed for six months while sponsors voiced their concerns following 24 hours of devastating developments for world football’s governing body.

However, Fifa are working hard to convince everyone that it is business as usual despite the arrests here yesterday of seven  top officials including three executive members, indicted by US authorities on corruption charges.

This is emphasised by the fact that the agenda for tomorrow’s Congress has the election of president listed as the 17th of 19 items.

The agenda was published at the start of the month and despite the fall-out from yesterday there has been no move to push the vote up the running order.

As a result, Congress will consider the dispute between Israeli and Palestinian football authorities, the state of women’s football, third-party ownership, what is listed as “handshake for Peace initiative” and also the Fifa World Football Museum before members decide whether to grant Sepp Blatter a fifth term.

Comment: No matter what Sepp Blatter hears, in his world he is always in the right

Remarkably, Fifa insiders think the debate on the Middle East, which could see the expulsion of Israel, may generate more heat than any debate on the presidential election.

Indeed the election is seen as such a routine matter that before delegates vote they will elect members of Fifa’s judicial bodies, extend the mandates of co-opted female members of the executive committee and install the  vice-presidents and members of the executive committee.

The agenda is also designed to give Blatter a  number of opportunities as the sitting president to make speeches. Whenever he has faced problems he has used such occasions to get across his side of the story and to announce that Fifa will be giving more money to member associations.

Tomorrow is expected to be no different and with this Congress coming a year after a financially successful World Cup, Blatter is expected to announce that member associations will now get even more from Fifa.

Although UEFA, the most powerful confederation in Fifa, have called for a postponement that could only happen if a motion was approved by two-thirds of Congress.

FIFA insiders say UEFA are unlikely to get such a majority as the other confederations, led by Asia, oppose any postponement. Asia has 47 members and came out strongly in support of Blatter today, insisting the election should go ahead.

Standard Sport understands that  Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, Blatter’s opponent, wants the election to take place. This goes against his main supporter, UEFA, but it means the Jordanian has fallen in line with the views of his own Asian federation.

UEFA could decide to boycott the election but with other confederations supporting Blatter he will have no problem obtaining the required votes to hold the Congress.

It has emerged that not all members of UEFA are opposed to Blatter with much support for the Swiss from eastern European countries and even from a couple of home nations, in particular Wales.

The smaller countries are grateful for the financial help FIFA give them and the corruption charges are seen as irrelevant, if not a US conspiracy.


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