– controversies engulf his fifth term as FBI nabs two vice presidents; charges 14 top executives
Despite the chaos and confusion which world football governing body, Federation of International Football Associations, FIFA, has been embroiled in the past week, Sepp Blatter has secured a fifth term in charge of the body after winning the Friday, May 29 election in Zurich, Switzerland.
The 79-year-old Swiss who has been FIFA supremo since 1997, defeated his hotly-tipped opponent, Jordanian Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein after polling 133 votes to the 39-year-old’s 73; with Prince Ali conceding defeat before the second round vote.
Blatter declared upon his re-election which would see him remain the federation’s president until he clocks 83: “For the next four years, I will be in command of this boat called FIFA and will bring it back ashore, we will bring it back to the beach.” Before adding rather excitedly, “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.”
This victory for the septuagenarian comes on the heels of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigation into a web of bribery and corruption that has tarnished the image of the organization which last week (precisely on Wednesday, May 27) led to multiple arrests during dawn raids at the Baur au Lac Hotel in Zurich (Switzerland); as well as charges against 14 senior executives of FIFA.
WHY OFFICIALS, TOP EXECS WERE ARRESTED BY THE FBI
Nine FIFA officials and four executives of sports management companies were arrested on suspicion of taking in excess of $150m (N30bn) in bribes stretching back to 24 years ago. United States prosecutors said the officials conspired with sports marketing executives to “shut out competitors and keep highly lucrative contracts for themselves through the systematic payment of bribes and kickbacks”.
According to the US Department of Justice, they were arrested for receiving bribes totalling $100m (N20bn). Charges against them include, but not limited to “racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies”. The nabbed men are: Jeffrey Webb (CONCACAF President and FIFA VP), Eugenio Figueredo, Eduardo Li (Costa Rica football federation president), Julio Rocha, Costas Takkas, Rafael Esquivel, José Maria Marin, Nicolás Leoz and Jack Warner (FIFA VP from Trinidad and Tobago).
Meanwhile, Swiss authorities have launched their own independent investigation into the bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups which were awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively.
Those who the search light would be beamed on include Confederation of African Football (CAF) President, Cameroonian Issa Hayatou; Vitaly Mutko (Russia); Angel María Villar Llona (Spain); Michel D’Hooghe (Belgium); Senes Erzik (Turkey); Worawi Makudi (Thailand); Marios Lefkaritis (Cyprus); Jacques Anouma (Ivory Coast); Rafael Salguero (Guatemala) and Hany Abo Rida (Egypt).
The Swiss attorney general said they’ll be asked about “criminal mismanagement and money laundering”, having seized assorted electronic data and documents from FIFA Headquarters in Zurich.
MEET THE FIFTH TIME VICTOR: JOSEPH SEPP BLATTER
Born Joseph Sepp Blatter on March 10, 1936 in Visp, Canton Valais, Switzerland, he studied in Saint-Maurice, Switzerland, before getting a degree in business and economics from the University of Lausanne in 1959.
He was elected FIFA President on June 8, 1998, having already served world football’s governing body for 23 years across a number of roles. He joined FIFA as Director of Technical Programmes in 1975, before becoming General Secretary and subsequently CEO. He was re-elected as head of FIFA first in 2002, before further successful re-elections in 2007 and 2011, and much recently 2015.
During his time as the head of world football, FIFA President, Blatter has expanded FIFA’s competition portfolio, developing the FIFA Club World Cup as well as introducing world championships for Beach Soccer and Futsal. According to bornrich.com, he is worth about $10 million (N2bn).