Blatter: FIFA survival at stake
Sepp Blatter warned Friday that the ''survival of FIFA is at stake'' if he is deposed as president next month, while countering accusations his command of world football is undemocratic.
Blatter, who is being challenged for FIFA's top job by Mohammed bin Hammam, has fast tracked an investigation into fresh allegations of corruption against six senior members that surfaced this week.
Bin Hammam, a former ally of Blatter, accused the 75-year-old Swiss on Thursday of allowing FIFA's image to be ''sullied beyond compare.''
But Blatter insisted in a column printed in newspapers across Europe that world football would face an uncertain future if he isn't elected to serve a fourth four-year term.
''The ballot on 1 June could lead to a seismic shift with irreversible damage. Quite simply, the survival of FIFA is at stake,'' Blatter said. ''It is a question of whether the game's established world governing body will continue to exist after this date or whether it will disappear into a black hole.''
Despite painting such a pessimistic vision of FIFA's future, Blatter is confident of being re-elected by its 208 national members.
''I will win the election with a clear two-thirds majority,'' he predicted. ''South America, Central and North America, Europe, Oceania and a significant part of Africa and Asia will continue to support my ideas. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile outlining what the alternative would be, i.e. none at all.''
But Blatter acknowledged that he is ''accused of acting in an undemocratic way.''
''Decision-making authority can and must, however, be organized centrally, as in any other global undertaking,'' he said. ''Football works because there is one set of laws that applies on every continent. Otherwise, everyone would do their own thing.
''Or let me pose it like this: who, in future, would establish which laws of the game if decision-making powers were delegated to the six confederations?''
Blatter will try to shift the focus this weekend onto his push to use football to promote peace in the Middle East.
Accompanied by Prince Ali of Jordan, Blatter will travel on Sunday to the Palestinian territory and the following day to Israel.
But the visit is likely to be overshadowed by continuing questioning of the probity of FIFA.
When the chairman of England's Football Association, David Bernstein, was asked on Thursday whether he trusted either Blatter or bin Hammam to run world football, he responded: ''I don't want to answer that question.''
Both the FA and FIFA are running separate investigations into alleged corruption during the bidding contest for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups that was revealed during a British Parliamentary inquiry this week.
FIFA is looking at the validity of claims that executive committee members Issa Hayatou and Jacques Anouma were paid $1.5 million to vote for Qatar, which was awarded the 2022 World Cup, according to evidence from an undercover investigation by The Sunday Times newspaper released to the British hearing.
David Triesman, the chairman of The FA until last May, told the lawmakers that four long-standing FIFA executive committee members - Jack Warner, Nicolas Leoz, Ricardo Teixeira and Worawi Makudi - engaged in ''improper and unethical'' conduct in the 2018 bidding, which was won by Russia.
Separately Friday, Worawi was stripped of the presidency of the Football Association of Thailand.
The Sports Authority of Thailand said that the postponement of FAT elections last week was illegal, and as no election had been held within the required time limit after Worawi's presidency expired at the end of 2010, his position was void.
Worawi was to have been challenged for the presidency last Friday but the election was postponed when the executive board said some of the clubs had more than one voting representative.
''It was clearly an illegal move,'' SAT deputy governor Somkid Pinthong told a Senate committee on sports, according to a report in Thursday's Bangkok Post.
''An election for FAT president must have been completed by March 31,'' Somkid said. ''As an election was not held by that date, Worawi and his executive board have lost their positions. In fact, they did not even have the authority to call the May 6 election.''
Worawi was accused by Triesman of demanding the television rights for a planned friendly between England and Thailand.
Rob Harris can be reached at http://twitter.com/RobHarrisUK