A vote of confidence!
That is how president of the Barbados Football Association (BFA) Randy Harris has described the decision by FIFA to re-elect Sepp Blatter as its president during their elections in Zurich, Switzerland today.
In an election marred by arrests and corruption allegations, Harris said despite the indictment of seven senior football officials in what has been described as the biggest ever sporting scandal, the voters still gave Blatter their support for a fifth term.
“Although Blatter has not been returned by a two thirds majority, he has been returned by a big enough majority to say that he has the highest percentage of people in FIFA who support him,” the BFA boss told Barbados TODAY from Switzerland, shortly before heading to the airport to return to the island.
“After the elections, people didn’t seem very worried that he was returned to office.”
While admitting that there were no celebrations after Blatter was announced the winner, he said that reaction was not surprising considering the circumstances.
When asked what his feelings on Blatter’s reinstatement were, Harris said: “Well I have no strong feelings on it. Obviously there was some concern about the perception of FIFA under Blatter’s leadership, but it obviously wasn’t that big a deal since the majority elected him.”
He insisted now that the election process was completed, FIFA’s main objective would be to try and clear its name.
Harris said this was necessary if people were to continue believing in FIFA, and the sport of football.
“FIFA has reserves of almost $5 billion and I believe that they will use some of that money to employ the best PR consultants who can find a way to help improve the perceived image of the organization.
“The situation is worrisome for people outside of FIFA and I think that it is a matter which FIFA will want to address quite urgently,” he noted.
On Friday Blatter won a fifth term as FIFA president with his victory over Prince Ali bin Al Hussein in the long-awaited Zurich election.
The 79-year-old was returned to the presidency for four more years after Prince Ali withdrew before a second ballot was undertaken.
Blatter polled 133 of the 209 votes in the first round, seven short of the two-thirds majority he needed, with his opponent securing 73 votes.
“For the next four years I will be in command of this boat called FIFA and we will bring it back ashore, we will bring it back to the beach,” Blatter said, insisting this would be his last four years at the helm.
“The age is no problem. You have people that are 50 who look old. I like you, I like my job and I like to be with you. I’m not perfect, nobody’s perfect. Trust and confidence, together we go.”
Prince Ali had asked delegates to “listen to your conscience” and warned the watching world would not accept another Blatter win on the back of a week of dawn raids, criminal investigations and staggering corruption allegations.
But the status quo prevailed, leaving UEFA president Michel Platini, Football Association chairman Greg Dyke and the rest of Blatter’s critics to ponder their next move.
Both Platini and Dyke have refused to rule out the option of boycotting future World Cups, while the outcome means David Gill will make good on his pre-vote promise not to take up his FIFA vice-presidency in the event of a Blatter win.
Dyke insisted that Blatter’s re-election should not be taken as a guarantee that he will rule for another four years, saying he would be surprised if he remains in charge for half of that time.
Dyke said: “To quote the Attorney General, ‘this is the beginning of the process, not the end’. I think there is an awful lot more of this to play out.
“The idea Blatter could reform FIFA is suspect. I’d be very surprised if he was still in this job in two years’ time.”
Meanwhile former Portugal player Luis Figo, who was in the presidential election race until withdrawing his candidacy last week, was scathing of the decision to re-elect Blatter.
“Today was another dark day in Zurich,” Figo said. “FIFA has lost, but above everything, football has lost and everyone who truly cares about it has lost too.
“Instead of what Mr Blatter said, the happenings of last Wednesday were not bad for football: they were bad for FIFA and for all those responsible that lead the organisation until now.”
Figo also felt that Blatter’s assertion that he could not be held responsible for all of those involved with FIFA was an insult.
“Mr Blatter had a very cynical reaction when he said that he couldn’t control everyone. It offends everyone’s intelligence,” he added. “These persons, whom Mr Blatter has promoted through years, turned, with him, FIFA into a decadent organisation.
“If Mr Blatter were minimally concerned about football, he would have given up the re-election. If he has a minimal of decency, he will resign in the next few days.
“I regret nothing. I fought, I persisted, I made an effort for the regeneration of this organisation that has to change course. We live in an emergency situation and football is the damaged party on this.
“I’ve denounced what I directly lived. I would do it again. And I remain available to help FIFA rebuild after this,” he said.