English Football Association Said to Support Challenger to FIFA's Blatter
The Football Association may contact the head of Asian soccer, Mohamed Bin Hammam, who has expressed interest in running for the top job of world soccer’s ruling body, the people said. England will support another credible candidate should Bin Hammam decide not to run, said the pair, who declined to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly on the elections.
“The matter has not been discussed but will be considered by the F.A. board when nominations have been closed,” said Julian Eccles, director of communications of the English body. Its backing of a rival candidate in 2002 failed to unseat Blatter, who’s seeking a fourth four-year term. Blatter declined to comment.
Blatter, 74, is so far the only official candidate in the June 1 election. Candidates must be nominated by the end of this month, and need the backing of at least one of FIFA’s 208 national associations to be eligible.
England’s opposition to the current FIFA head comes three months after the nation finished last of four bidders for the 2018 World Cup, which is going to be staged in Russia. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, who along with Prince William and soccer player David Beckham, lobbied officials including Blatter in the days leading up to the vote, described the way soccer’s governing body operates as “murky.”
Acting F.A. chairman Roger Burden quit after vote, saying he couldn’t face working with FIFA officials. “I’m not prepared to deal with people whom I cannot trust,” Burden said in his resignation letter.
Before the vote, two members of FIFA’s 24-man decision- making body were suspended along with lower ranking officials following an internal enquiry after the Sunday Times newspaper recorded the officials saying votes for the tournament could be bought.
The Zurich-based organization last week announced sales of more than $4 billion between 2007 and 2010.
“Competition is the best way to make the organization vibrant and alive,” Bin Hamman, 61, said on his Facebook page. “Competition is good for the organization, whether president or any other posts.”
In January, Bin Hammam said FIFA “needs a lot of improvement” and “there is something I can present and do for international football.”
Bin Hammam, whose home country, Qatar, will host the 2022 World Cup, last year failed to convince members of FIFA’s executive committee to agree to the introduction of a two-term limit for future presidents. The F.A. supports that change, one of the people said.
Blatter, a Swiss native, has been with FIFA since the 1970s. He was elected to the post of president in 1998. Two days ago he acknowledged the organization needed to address a perception that it tolerated corruption.
“We could communicate a bit better what we are doing and then the perception would be different,” he said at a press conference in Newport, Wales.
The investigation into and action taken against the officials named by the Sunday Times proved FIFA is serious about tackling malpractice, he added.
The 2010 World Cup in South Africa may have strengthened Blatter’s position. He fought against opponents, including members of FIFA’s executive committee, to take the tournament to Africa for the first time. The competition generated $3.7 billion and ran without problems.
Blatter said “many, many” national associations backed his re-election bid.