FAI boss John Delaney has called on Sepp Blatter to step aside and confirmed that the controversial 79-year-old head of Fifa will not be receiving the Irish vote in Friday’s presidential election in Zurich.
“Regardless of the good he claims to have done during his tenure, he has to recognise that Fifa has an incredibly bad brand image,” Delaney said. “We won’t be voting for him.”
Instead, the FAI will be joining the English and Scottish football associations in supporting the sole remaining rival candidate, Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan.
Calling on Blatter to step down “for the good of the game”, Delaney told BBC: “If he was doing the right thing by football, which he says he cares for and loves, then he should step aside and let somebody else come forward and improve the image of the world game.
“Uefa’s image is very good, which is run by a good friend of mine, Michel Platini. I can go to Uefa and ask ‘can we increase the Euros from 16 teams to 24’ which I did, they get that. You can talk to UefaA about 13 countries hosting the tournament in 2020. It gets discussed and it gets done. But at Fifa, you can’t.
“Blatter has had a hell of a run at it. But surely he knows, in his private moments, he must know, that outside of the voting chambers, that the world, the football public, the players and supporters, want change.
“I have no problems telling anybody, telling the world now, that we will not be voting for Sepp Blatter. There is a permanent controversy at Fifa.”
Despite the opposition to his reelection in some quarters, Blatter is expected to secure a fifth four-year term on Friday, since he commands widespread support in five of Fifa’s six continental regions.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that British police are clamping down on known troublemakers in a bid to head off problems when England play Ireland in their high-profile friendly in Dublin next month. The two nations meet at the Aviva Stadium on June 7, the first time they have played in Dublin since rioting England fans forced the abandonment of a friendly in February 1995.
Blatter will be opposed by Jordan's Prince Ali (right).
After witnessing a deterioration in behaviour among travelling supporters at England’s last four away games, police are to enforce football banning orders for next month’s game against Martin O’Neill’s side. Fans subject to banning orders must surrender their passports and, for the first time in four years, will also be required to attend nominated police stations and confirm attendance with a signature.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Roberts, Britain’s National Police Chiefs’ Council head of football policing, said: “While the majority of fans continue to behave themselves, in the last four England away fixtures, we have seen a significant amount of drunken anti-social behaviour, unpleasant chanting aimed at provoking home supporters, and a small number of people who seem to take every opportunity to create distress for others... given the deterioration in fan behaviour and the proximity of Dublin, I have reintroduced the requirement to sign on at a police station as well as to surrender passports. We will be running a national operation to round up those who fail to comply before and immediately after the fixture.”
Football policing ’spotters’ from England will also be present in Dublin and at the Aviva Stadium to gather evidence of any bad behaviour and ensure anyone who offends faces the consequences of their actions. “We are working closely with An Garda Síochána to support their operation,” said Roberts.
Up to 3,000 England supporters are officially expected to attend the game. There are still tickets available for Irish supporters through Ticketmaster though, as part of the security arrangements surrounding the event, proof of residence, in the form a passport or driving licence, will be required to collect the tickets on match day.
An FAI spokesman said: “We have been working closely with the gardaí on all matters relating to the game and are confident that, as at Wembley two years ago, the match will pass off peacefully.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved