Prince William backs FA's bid for FIFA poll delay

Published May. 31, 2011 10:24 p.m. ET

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.''