News 28th May 2015

UEFA against Congress boycott, but threatens FIFA withdrawal

UEFA has decided against a boycott of FIFA’s Congress, which begins this evening in Zurich, but said that it would withdraw from FIFA if current President Joseph S. Blatter is re-elected. Given that the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) have pledged to support current FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, this means that Prince Ali bin al-Hussein must gain the support of almost all the other member associations from FIFA’s four other confederations in order to defeat Blatter in the Presidential election, which takes place tomorrow.

The AFC and CAF support means that Blatter is likely to receive the support of 98 of the FIFA member associations (see table). That is just under half of the 209 FIFA member associations – a simple majority of over 50% of the votes (105 votes if every member association votes) is enough to win the election. At a UEFA press conference today, UEFA President Michel Platini said that Prince bin al-Hussein should get 45 out of the 53 UEFA member association votes. That could mean that if the AFC and CAF associations all vote for Blatter, all the votes from FIFA’s three smaller confederations might still not be enough for Prince bin al-Hussein to win the election. He would have to steal some votes from Asian and African member associations in order to win, or hope that the eight dissenting UEFA member associations abstain from voting.

FIFA Confederations & expected Presidential voting

Confederation Member associations
Asian Football Confederation (AFC) 46
Confederation of African Football (CAF) 52
Confederation of North, Central American and
Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF)
Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (CONMEBOL) 10
Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) 11
Total* 207
Expected Blatter support 98
Expected Prince bin al-Hussein support 45
‘Floating’ votes 66

* There are 209 FIFA member associations, but only 207 listed on the FIFA website. The extra two votes have therefore been added to the ‘floating’ votes.

The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) includes 35 member associations; the Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (CONMEBOL) includes 10 member associations; and the Oceania Football Confederation includes 11. None of these three confederations has indicated block support for either Blatter or Prince bin al-Hussein, as the AFC, CAF and UEFA have done. Earlier this week, Prince al-Hussein’s team contacted police after allegedly being approached by an individual who claimed that he could offer 47 votes in the election, reported The Guardian.

Each of the 209 member associations has one vote, regardless of size, which means that Brazil has the same vote as Vanuatu. Under Article 17.3 of the Electoral Regulations for the FIFA Presidency, only members present are eligible to vote. This means that the arrest of a number of FIFA officials yesterday could affect the result, as a number of them had been planning to attend Congress as national association representatives. This included Jeffrey Webb, Cayman Islands FA President; Eduardo Li, Costa Rican soccer federation (FEDEFUT) President; Julio Rocha, Nicaraguan soccer federation (FENIFUT) President; Eugenio Figueredo; Uruguay football association (AUF) President; and Rafael Esquivel, Venezuelan football federation (FVF) President. It is not known if replacements will be sent, but under FIFA’s Standing Orders of the Congress, on p.71 of its Statutes, national associations may send three representatives to Congress, whose flights and accommodation will be funded by FIFA.

The votes for FIFA President are conducted via secret ballot (Article 17.1 of the Electoral Regulations). ‘The Secretary General shall put the ballot papers that have been collected and counted into envelopes intended for this purpose and seal them immediately’, reads Article 17.6 of the Regulations. ‘The general secretariat shall keep these envelopes and destroy them 100 days after the end of the Congress (cf. art. 10 par. 5 of the Standing Orders of the Congress).’ This means that despite the pledges of support for Blatter from the AFC and CAF, member associations may decide to go against the wishes of their confederation without fear of punishment.

When asked if Blatter’s re-election would mean that UEFA would pull out of FIFA, President Platini said “of course”. He also said that this could “possibly” mean that Europe’s teams would withdraw from FIFA-organised competitions. “We cannot continue like this”, Platini said in today’s press conference, confirming that he had asked Blatter to step down this morning.

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