Prince William backs FA’s bid for FIFA poll delay

Prince William joined the chorus of criticism against FIFA on
Tuesday by backing the English Football Association’s calls for
Sepp Blatter’s re-election to be postponed.

The prince is president of the FA and endorsed Chairman David
Bernstein’s appeal for Wednesday’s election to be delayed in the
wake a bribery scandal that saw Blatter’s only challenger Mohamed
bin Hammam pull out of the race.

Bernstein called for a ”reforming candidate” to be found,
raising concerns about FIFA’s lack of transparency and
accountability.

”The Duke of Cambridge (William), as president, has been kept
informed of the FA’s proposals and is fully supportive of the
chairman and the initiatives the FA has recommended,” St. James’s
Palace said in a statement. ”He considers the transparency of the
international governing body to be integral to the good-governance
of the game.”

The FA on Tuesday became the first major national association to
formerly oppose the election going ahead since a bribery scandal
led to two senior FIFA executives being suspended – Bin Hammam and
Vice President Jack Warner.

Bin Hammam pulled out the election before FIFA’s ethics
committee launched a full investigation into the Qatari head of
Asian football.

But by the time FIFA’s 208 associations gathered for dinner late
Tuesday at the start of its Congress, the only confirmed backer of
England’s last-minute campaign to postpone the election was
Scotland.

For the motion to succeed, it would require the backing of three
quarters of congress.

”To get 150-odd votes clearly would be extremely difficult when
we (started) from a standing start,” said Bernstein, who announced
two weeks ago that the FA would abstain in the election. ”There
was actually a matter of principle involved. Myself and the FA feel
that the situation FIFA has got itself into is in many ways
unacceptable.

”I would have thought if (Blatter) is going to continue he
should want to continue having won a proper election with
opposition and then go forward with a full mandate,” Bernstein
said. ”Going forward in this situation if he does with a
coronation rather than an election I don’t think does anybody any
good.”

But FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer, who blew the
whistle on alleged corruption by Warner and Bin Hammam, said the
English move was ”too little, too late.”

”If they wanted other candidates they should have done things
before the deadline,” the American said. ”The FA needs to learn
to be ahead of the curve and not behind the game.”

Blazer compiled the evidence that shows Caribbean football
leaders were allegedly paid $40,000 each to back Bin Hammam’s
now-abandoned presidential bid during a visit to Warner’s native
Trinidad.

”(There is) a concern about the lack of transparency and
accountability within the organization, contributing to the current
unsatisfactory situation,” Bernstein said. ”Events of the last
few days have reinforced our views.”

FIFA is unpopular in England after its bid to host the 2018
World Cup attracted just two votes. Blatter spoke out against the
English media when addressing his executive committee before the
vote in December.

In backing Bernstein, Scottish FA chief executive Stewart Regan
proposed that FIFA appoints a ”wholly independent” ethics
committee and formulate a plan for making ”essential changes” to
the organization.

The English and Scottish federations have powerful positions in
world football, holding two of eight votes on the sport’s
rule-making body, The International Football Association Board.
Only FIFA and the nations forming the United Kingdom sit on the
body, much the annoyance of other football powers worldwide.

However, Bernstein didn’t think the two nations risk losing
their privileged roles by speaking out against Blatter.

”I know that sort of (IFAB) structure is of some concern to
other nations in the world,” Bernstein said. ”It is a rather
historically based structure. But I don’t believe that because a
party dealing with FIFA takes a stance on something it should lead
to retribution.”