ZURICH: The embattled head of world soccer, FIFA President Sepp Blatter, is expected to be re-elected on Friday despite growing calls for his resignation amid a corruption scandal that has engulfed the sport’s governing body.
At a meeting in Zurich starting at 0730 GMT, up to 209 FIFA members will choose between Blatter, who is seeking his fifth term as president, and his sole challenger Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan.
Anger within Europe’s powerful regional soccer body UEFA and other members over the damage allegations of graft are doing to FIFA is unlikely to be enough to topple the 79-year-old Swiss, who is backed by the Asian and African confederations.
The maths appears to be in Blatter’s favour, despite some countries saying they were switching allegiance.
On Friday, New Zealand Football said it would vote for 39-year-old Prince Ali despite a previous unanimous commitment from countries in the Oceania Football Confederation in January to back Blatter.
“Given the developments in the past 48 hours – which have been deeply distressing for all of us who love football – New Zealand Football believes substantive change is now essential within FIFA as soon as possible to repair its tarnished reputation,” NZF President Mark Aspden said in a statement.
In his first public appearance since Wednesday’s dramatic events, when leading soccer officials were arrested in a dawn raid on their luxury Swiss hotel, Blatter said on Thursday that there was no room “for corruption of any kind”.
“The events of (Wednesday) have cast a long shadow over football and this Congress,” Blatter said.
He also sought to distance himself from the scandal, the biggest crisis FIFA has faced in its 111-year history.
“I know many people hold me ultimately responsible … (but) I cannot monitor everyone all the time. If people want to do wrong, they will also try to hide it.” – AFP