June 1 - Sepp Blatter has been elected unopposed to a fourth term as FIFA president promising to reform the organisation, but soccer's woes deepened with fresh calls for a probe into Qatar being awarded the 2022 World Cup and fresh concern from sponsors. Andrew Potter reports.
Image is everything for major brands wanting to be associated with world soccer. But as delegates arrived at the headquarters of FIFA in Switzerland to witness the president Sepp Blatter secure another term in office, it appeared a sport under siege. SOUNDBITE: PRESIDENT OF UAE FOOTBALL FEDERATION MOHAMMED KHALFAN AL RUMAITHI SAYING (English): "I don't think that there will be a vote today, the candidate has withdrawn and there is only one candidate." And for many that's the problem. Blatter, standing unopposed for re-election after the only other candidate Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar was suspended amid allegations he paid for votes. Blatter has run FIFA since 1998, leading a period of unprecedented prosperity thanks to the sale of TV rights and sponsorship. But growing concern over alleged corruption within FIFA and its resistance to public scrutiny has led to the greatest crisis in the organisation's history. Emirates Airlines, Visa, Coca-Cola and Adidas pay hundreds of millions to be associated with FIFA events. All have made rare public statements voicing concern. The English Football Association told FIFA delegates the presidential election should be delayed. That was overwhelmingly rejected. Blatter equated FIFA to a ship which was sailing through troubled waters and said he should be the captain to guide it back to stability. Most delegates agreed. (SOUNDBITE) ZORAN LAKOVIC, GENERAL SECRETARY SERBIAN FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION (English): "I think it's big pressure on Mr Blatter and the FIFA administration in the last days and I will be very, very happy if they start to work very hard to clean something in their house from tomorrow." FIFA's problems aren't over yet. There's mounting pressure to investigate the process that saw Qatar awarded the 2022 World Cup. Germany's influential soccer federation says FIFA can't ignore suspicions about the vote and it should be reviewed. Blatter has promised reform, including widening the number of delegates who decide on where a World Cup is held. The sport's sponsors and fans will be watching closely. Andrew Potter, Reuters