FIFA to hold new election but concerns it under old rules

Wed Jun 10, 2015 3:25pm EDT
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By Brian Homewood

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) - FIFA began the process of finding a replacement for outgoing president Sepp Blatter on Wednesday with the same system which has caused problems in the past.

In the race to become only the ninth president in the scandal-plagued federation’s 111-year history, there is a big risk that once again it will be a question of who can promise the most development funds to the 209 member associations, many of them from smaller countries, who each hold one vote in the presidential election.

Blatter, who has said he will not be a candidate, had mastered the system in which his promises of equal distribution of funds earned him the majority of votes from Africa, Asia, Latin American and the Caribbean.

He won 133 votes as he beat Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan to win a fifth term on May 29, only to lay down his mandate four days later as investigations by the U.S. and Swiss authorities into alleged bribery, money laundering and other corrupt practices continued to intensify.

The U.S. indicted nine current or former FIFA officials and five business executives only days before the last election. On Wednesday, Switzerland's Office of the Attorney General seized further data from FIFA as part of its probe.

"Eleven days ago, two thirds of the federations voted to maintain the old system of zero transparency and appalling levels of governance," said Jaimie Fuller, chairman of Swiss-based sportswear company SKINS and a campaigner for FIFA reform. "The problem we have is not just the Sepp Blatter problem, it's the FIFA problem," he said, adding that any suggestion FIFA can reform itself is laughable.

Aside from the question of cleaning up the organization, other key questions facing soccer - such as the very weak state of professional soccer in many countries and how to stop match-fixing will unlikely be a focus of the election.

Among those who may stand are Prince Ali, Europe's soccer chief Michel Platini, and Chung Mong-joon, the billionaire scion of South Korea's Hyundai conglomerate.   Continued...

Members of the media stand in front of the entrance of the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, May 30, 2015.  REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann