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.”