Sepp Blatter, FIFA President

Getty Images

Sepp Blatter was re-elected president of  FIFA for a fifth term on Friday in an election despite calls for him to resign amid the world soccer organization's worst corruption scandal in history.

The 79-year-old Swiss-born administrator, who Forbes dubbed the "most powerful" man in sports and who Rolling Stone called "FIFA's supervillain," beat his only opponent, Jordanian Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, 113 votes to 73. His challenger, a 39-year-old FIFA vice president, later conceded, avoiding a second elections round that was expected to take place because no one secured a two-thirds majority of the ballots.

"I thank you that you accepted me that for the next few years, I will be in command of this boat called FIFA," Blatter said in his victory speech. "And we will bring it back, we will bring it back offshore, and we will bring it back to the beach, we will bring it back where finally football can be played, beach soccer, we can play everywhere. But we have to work on that. We will have to work on that."

FIFA has faced corruption accusations for years. Earlier this week, the U.S. Justice Department indicted nine FIFA officials and five sports media and promotions executives of "racketeering conspiracy and corruption." Blatter is not named.

In his speech, he cited "organizational problems" in FIFA and said "we have a lot of problems to solve." He also signaled he will not run for a sixth term, saying, "I will give this FIFA to my successor in a very, very strong position. We have to work together."

"I'm not perfect. Nobody's perfect. But we will do a good job together, I'm sure....Together we go! Let's go FIFA! Let's got FIFA!" he said to a cheering crowd, who gave him a standing ovation.

Celebrities such as Rainn WilsonJosh Groban and Judah Friedlander have taken to Twitter to respond to the vote outcome and the scandal.


The U.S. Justice Department had said in its statement that among the 14 people indicted are "U.S. and South American sports marketing executives who are alleged to have systematically paid and agreed to pay well over $150 million in bribes and kickbacks to obtain lucrative media and marketing rights to international soccer tournaments."

Meanwhile, U.K. and Swiss officials have launched their own probes, while Britain's Serious Fraud Office said in a statement that it "continues actively to assess material in its possession and has made plain that it stands ready to assist continuing international criminal investigations," The Guardian reported.

Blatter had rebuffed calls by soccer fans to resign amid the scandal, which was spurred by FIFA's decision to have Russia and Qatar host the next two World Cup tournaments, set to take place in 2018 and 2022.

In his victory speech, FIFA's president said he "will not touch the World Cup because the World Cup is too important."

Switzerland is also investigating the matter and Zurich authorities have arrested seven of the defendants charged in the 47-count U.S. federal indictment.

"As unfortunate as these events are, it should be clear that we welcome the actions and the investigations by the U.S. and Swiss authorities and believe that it will help to reinforce measures that FIFA has already taken to root out any wrongdoing in football," Blatter had said in a statement released by FIFA on the day of the U.S. indictments.

—Additional reporting by Baker Machado

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share