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article imageFIFA's coronation goes ahead as England and FA come under attack

By Kev Hedges     Jun 1, 2011 in Sports
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has taken charge of football's governing body for a fourth term. The vote to formally re-elect Blatter took place on Wednesday afternoon.
Attempts to block the election by the English and Scottish football associations have failed. David Bernstein, chairman of the English FA had urged Fifa to postpone the elections following allegations and investigations into a bribery scandal that saw top Fifa executives Jack Warner and Mohammed Bin Hammam suspended. When Bernstein put the proposal to the Fifa congress they voted in favour of maintaining the election and not to postpone. The vote finished 172-17 in favour of the election going ahead.
Blatter was the only candidate standing after Bin Hammam, the only other challenger, was forced to resign on Sunday by Fifa's ethic's committee.
Mr Bernstein's proposal to Fifa's congress was not even supported by home nations Wales and Northern Ireland. Only Scotland went public with its support for England to postpone the election. The FA chairman told the congress: It gives me no pleasure to make this speech. A lot of people have warned me I shouldn't be making this speech but Fifa is a democratic organisation. We are faced with an unsatisfactory situation. We are subject to universal criticism from governments, sponsors, media and the wider world. With this background the election has turned into one-horse race.
In the view of the Football Association this should be avoided both for the sake of Fifa and the president itself. A coronation without an opponent provides a flawed mandate. I ask for a postponement to allow time for an additional candidate or candidates to stand and compete in an open and fair election.
Only by so doing will the winner have proper credibility over the next four years.
Bernstein's call for "greater transparency and better governance" not only fell on deaf ears but then had some nations within Fifa's ranks audaciously launching into a volley of attacks on the English FA. First, Selemani Omari, president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's football federation said, "We are ill at ease with people who wield unfounded accusations - he who accuses must provide evidence, Fifa belongs to 208 national associations and not to one association, we must not seek solutions through the media or a Parliament in any third country."
Omari was applauded far more warmly than Bernstein's had after his delivery. There were further attacks from countries like Haiti, Benin, Fiji and Cyprus. The most swingeing attack of all however was left to Argentine member Julio Grondona, head of finance committee at Fifa and the senior vice-president with the organisation. He said: We always have attacks from England which are mostly lies with the support of journalism which is more busy lying than telling the truth. This upsets and disturbs the Fifa family.
To present such a project as David Bernstein presented is like shooting a penalty because it cannot be always from the same place that the insults and problems come from. I see it at every congress. They have specific privileges with four countries having one vice-president. I don't know what our president has said. But we have seen the World Cup go around the world, to South America and Africa and it looks like this country does not like it. It looks like England is always complaining so please I say will you leave the Fifa family alone, and when you speak, speak with truth.
In an interview with the German press on Tuesday, reported in the Telegraph, Grondona called the English "pirates", admitting that he once told the failed England 2018 World Cup bid that he will not vote for England unless they give back the Falklands "which clearly belong to us".
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