FIFA's President Wins Reelection

Despite allegations of corruption, bribery and mismanagement under his watch, Sepp Blatter was re-elected Wednesday for a fourth term as president of FIFA, soccer's international governing body. Robert Siegel speaks with BBC sports reporter Alex Capstick in Zurich, about the decision to re-elect Blatter. Capstick says Blatter has the support of FIFA's executive committee and has already proposed new rules on how World Cup host countries should be selected in the future.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

FIFA is the world governing body of soccer. Judging from widespread allegations of bribery and corruption, one would think FIFA is in a state of crisis, but not according to Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA, who was re-elected today to a fourth term.

He was asked about a crisis at a news conference in Zurich on Monday.

Mr. SEPP BLATTER (President, FIFA): Crisis, what is a crisis? If somebody of you would describe to me what there is a crisis, then I would answer. Football is not in a crisis.

SIEGEL: Well, crisis or not, Blatter was re-elected without facing an opponent today. His only rival withdrew less than a week ago under allegations of impropriety.

The English and Scottish Football Associations urged a postponement of that vote, but the representatives of many other national soccer federations warmly supported Blatter.

Well, joining us from Zurich is sports reporter Alex Capstick of the BBC. And Alex, would you say FIFA in a crisis?

Mr. ALEX CAPSTICK (Sports Reporter, BBC): Well, lots of people would say FIFA is in a crisis, but the members don't think so, although they realize they have had a difficult time, and change is required.

And I think Sepp Blatter thinks that, as well, although he won't, as you heard, go as far to admit that the organization, an organization he has been in charge of for 13 years, he's just entering his final four-year term, but he won't go as far to say that it's a crisis, that it's in terminal decline.

He thinks he's the man to lead them out of the choppy waters, as he described them, and the members have trusted him in that.

CONAN: Now, shortly after his re-election, Blatter moved towards one change for FIFA: Rather than letting only the 24 members of the executive committee vote on which countries get to host the World Cup, he would have all 208 soccer federations vote. Is that likely to be an improvement or just more opportunity for vote-selling?

Mr. CAPSTICK: Well, he said that the current corruption allegations of bribery and the problems they've experienced over the past few days, weeks and months, all stems from the way the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were decided.

Now, in the past, World Cups have been chosen by the 24-man ruling executive committee, which only 22 men last December because two of them had been suspended over allegations of bribery in the buildup to that World Cup. So that was a problem.

And then countries that didn't do so well in that process, such as Australia, the United States and indeed England, made a few complaints that they felt it hadn't - might not have been fair. England, for example, had been praised by Sepp Blatter as having a very good bid.

So what Sepp Blatter has done, he hasn't admitted that those processes were flawed. However, to make the organization more transparent, he says he wants to - and to give the national associations more power, he's going to let the associations decide which countries host the World Cup.

The executive committee will make up a short list, but they won't recommend any of them, and the 208 national associations will sit down and decide what to do, who should get the World Cup.

SIEGEL: Now, Mohamed Bin Hammam, the man who withdrew from the race against Sepp Blatter, leaving this - making Blatter's re-election something unopposed, he had been involved in getting the games for his country, Qatar, the World Cup in 2022.

The president of the German football federation has called upon FIFA to re-examine its award of those games to Qatar. Is there any serious possibility of the federation revisiting that and changing the site of the games, or once they make a decision, is it obviously going to stick?

Mr. CAPSTICK: Well, Sepp Blatter has said there was nothing wrong with the bids, 2018 or 2022, and he's ruled out any revision of that process. They will not have another vote to see who stages the 2022 World Cup.

But now the head of the German federation has asked for that process to be revised, and FIFA will have to answer his question.

SIEGEL: Alex Capstick of the BBC, thanks for talking with us.

Mr. CAPSTICK: Thank you.

SIEGEL: Alex Capstick, a sports reporter for the BBC, spoke to us from Zurich, where FIFA today re-elected president Sepp Blatter by an overwhelming majority.

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