Blatter wins fifth FIFA term as challenger concedes

Fri May 29, 2015 6:29pm EDT
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By Mike Collett and Brian Homewood

ZURICH (Reuters) - Sepp Blatter was re-elected president of FIFA for a fifth term on Friday after his only challenger conceded defeat in an election overshadowed by allegations of rampant corruption in world soccer.

Blatter won despite demands that he quit in the face of a major bribery scandal being investigated by U.S., Swiss and other law enforcement agencies that plunged soccer's governing body into the worst crisis in its 111-year history.

Yet his mandate, which was far from convincing, raises fresh questions over his leadership with the possibility of civil war in international football, unhappy sponsors demanding reform and prosecutors looking to widen their investigations.

Neither Blatter nor Jordanian opponent Prince Ali bin Al Hussein received the necessary two thirds of votes in the first round, with Blatter securing 133 votes against 73 for Prince Ali. However, Prince Ali swiftly conceded.

"I congratulate you if you voted for Prince Ali, he was a good candidate, but I am the president now, the president of everybody," the 79-year-old Blatter said in his victory speech, knowing he faces a barrage of criticism and countless problems.

UEFA, the powerful European confederation, has been staunchly opposed to another term for the Swiss official and UEFA president Michel Platini has even raised the possibility, albeit unlikely, of Europe boycotting the World Cup.

There has also been talk of UEFA breaking away from FIFA, which is also unlikely, but nothing can be ruled out.

Blatter's future could yet depend on the reaction of FIFA's major sponsors and stakeholders who have been deeply dismayed by the dawn arrests in Zurich on Wednesday of several FIFA officials and U.S. prosecutors announcing indictments of officials and companies.   Continued...

FIFA President Sepp Blatter gestures after he was re-elected at the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich, Switzerland, May 29, 2015.    REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann