The 65th FIFA Congress wrapped up today with Sepp Blatter being re-elected for another four years as President of the most powerful sports organization in the world. Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein, survived the first round voting since two thirds majority required for a new President to be elected did not occur, Blatter received 133 while Prince Ali received 73. A second round where the majority winner would be elected President would be required, however, never came to fruition as Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein addressed the Congress before the start of the second round and formally withdrew from the race.
The events leading to today’s vote led to a larger focus on this year’s congress as the proceedings resumed under the watchful eye of the soccer world. Many undoubtedly tuned in to see if the events of the week, arrests of nine FIFA officials, would affect the FIFA Presidential election and potentially finally create some change within the organization. Change does take time though, LWOS writer Martin Bihl commented earlier in the day:
would be more surprised if [Blatter wasn’t re-elected] – change doesn’t come that quickly in non-corrupt orgs, which FIFA ain’t
— martin bihl (@martinbihl) May 29, 2015
While there was a chance to make a change quickly by the Congress, unfortunately, those who sided with Blatter need more time before casting off the man who has brought so much growth to the sport since becoming President in 1998. World Cup revenue has hit all-time highs at $4.2 Billion with last year’s event in Brazil, Asia and Africa’s first World Cups occurred during Blatter’s reign, while the first Middle Eastern World Cup was awarded to Qatar in 2022. Blatter’s ongoing work to help build the sport in Asia and Africa are big reasons why delegates from those regions have a hard time voting against him.
The soccer world now is left to contemplate what the next four years under Blatter’s re-election will bring. In the midst of the corruption scandal, two questionable upcoming World Cup locations known for human rights violations, and a lot of mending fences to make in the eyes of the world and those seventy three nations who voted against him today, Blatter will perhaps now navigate FIFA through a different world from the one he and the member nations knew just a few short days ago.
The FIFA Congress discussed and voted on a few other issues today such as the Israel and Palestine Federation issue, where Palestine dropped their call for a ban of their Israeli counterpart. The Palestinian Football Association stance was that Israel was treating Palestine soccer players wrongly at the border, not allowing equipment in for Palestine players to practice or play with, and the dispute about territory where five of Israel’s lower division teams currently play. Instead of a vote to suspend Israel a vote passed to create a joint committee between Israelis, Palestinians and FIFA to help resolve soccer related conflicts as they arise. Other votes included extending the mandates of co-opted female members of the Executive Committee and the installation of the vice presidents and members of the Executive Committee.
The FIFA Congress is an annual gathering of the Federation’s supreme body, made up of all member nations. Various articles are discussed and voted upon that range from suspensions and expulsions to developing the world game all the way to electing the organization president once every four years. The Congress has met annually since 1998; previously they met on a bi-annual basis.